Struggling

Mental health is on my mind this week. I’ve struggled with chronic depression for years; at points, it’s made me withdrawn, dissociative, restless, and unbelievably angry. I’m in a good place right now, but there are others around me who are struggling.

I have a niece and a nephew whose anxiety is so crippling, leaving the house is a struggle.

I have a daughter whose depression is putting her in a very dark place, and I’m deeply worried about her.

When I talk about depression and anxiety, I don’t mean the everyday struggles that come from stressful situations that arise during the course of regular life. I mean the overwhelming struggle to simply get out of bed in the morning, engage with other people, and get things done.

At points in my own life, I’ve had to literally map out my day in ten-to-fifteen minute increments, on paper, so that I could check things off as I went to feel accomplished and somewhat positive. And sometimes, the biggest check mark was right next to “Get up.”

What many don’t understand is that depression and the family of illnesses that surround it aren’t situational, and they can’t be explained away. Biochemical problems in the brain create a medical problem that can be treated with medication, and therapy can help people who suffer from these illnesses to come up with coping strategies. When left untreated, many who suffer can turn to self-medication in the forms of alcohol or other drugs, looking for anything that might help take the pain of these illnesses away.

It can’t be beaten. We can’t just get over it. We can only do our best to control how we deal with it. And we need others to understand that sometimes, we can’t even do that. These illnesses are insidious, making our own minds turn against us, and rendering us impotent, helpless to make any changes at all.

If you are struggling, too, remember you are not alone. You are loved. Help is available to you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and if that’s too much for you, go to Suicidepreventionlifeline.org to chat with someone online.

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