July 3, 2018

What They Don’t Tell You About Mental Health

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Mental health is still a taboo subject, isn’t it? We get embarrassed to talk about it. Downright uncomfortable. Whether it is our own mental health being discussed or someone else’s or just mental health, in general, we dance around the subject. As a result, there is so much that we’re NOT told about mental health.

Now, is that entirely true?

Is it that we are not told all the things or is it that we aren’t properly listening when it is being talked about?

Either way, here is a chance to get in the know… At least, as I see it & have experienced it.

mental health, mental illness, what they don't tell you

You have more control than you sometimes think.

It is okay to get rid of toxic people who push you into your lows or don’t support you when you need it most. Get rid of people who exploit your illness or kindness or otherwise suck your energy away without giving anything back.

You don’t have to put up with their crap no matter who they are. Set boundaries & look for those who respect you enough to acknowledge them — & those who disrespect you so much they stomp on them.

For me, for one person in particular, the real eye-opener was not just when my boundaries were completely trampled on, but when the person doing the trampling actually lashed out & tried to make it all my fault. Nope. DONE.

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You have that power. Take control.

You deserve to live a happy life.

You are not weak to seek out help. In fact, you deserve help.

Surround yourself with people who will support you. Make a call to a psychologist & get yourself into talk therapy with a professional who is unbiased about your situation. Talk it out.

Take it a step further… & I know this is a hard one because, until recently, I couldn’t bring myself to do it either… But, call a psychiatrist too. A psychiatrist isn’t just going to throw a bunch of pills at your problems. They will ask you a bunch of questions about your history & maybe even order a bunch of lab tests to rule out or diagnose potential hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiencies, or other ailments that have yet to be detected that might be contributing to your mental health issues.

You’d be surprised what havoc low Vitamin D can wreak, for example!

Sometimes, to get better, things might need to get a touch worse.

Adjusting to new medications is a process. Learning to talk to a total stranger about feelings & sometimes intimate subjects can be trying. Simply working the various appointments into your schedule can be a recipe for potential disaster. But, trust me! It is all worth it!

My first week on my first new medication made me feel anxious & irritable. Almost angry! One day, I went & shut myself into my bedroom simply because I was embarrassed & upset at my attitude toward my family & some of the words coming out of my mouth! It was awful. My husband saw it as yet another “lazy” episode — or at least that is what I projected… Yet it was all I could do a that particular moment in time to “protect” my family from my current “craziness.”

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At my next visit, I told my psychiatrist about my concerns & we discussed other side effects I was feeling (or not feeling). Then, after weighing the pros & cons with me & explaining his rationale, he prescribed a second medication battle the ill effects of the first & balance out my mood.

I know from some of the resources my psychiatrist recommended during my first visit with him that, for bipolar disorder (my particular diagnosis), sometimes an anti-depressant can cause irritability or manic episodes, so a mood stabilizer is recommended to be taken with it. So the prescription for the second medication did not come as a surprise.

Getting well takes time.

Whether you’re working with a psychiatrist, adjusting medications every week or two to get to a “stable” state or you’re working with a psychologist to get to the root of some of your own thoughts & feelings, it takes time.

Practicing some patience & reminding yourself you’re in it for the long-haul & there is no “quick fix” will do you well. For bipolar disorder, in particular, it was helpful for me to hear the analogy of an automatic versus manual transmission. Other people get to drive around in their automatic cars, not having to worry about when to shift; their lives just go on.

Yet, sometimes, with a mental illness, particularly bipolar, we need to learn to anticipate our ups & downs. We are driving a stick-shift. We need to get to know when we need to down-shift or shift up. Pay attention to when we need to ask for a medication adjustment. Take time to ourselves when it is necessary. Get more exercise or just take a flippin’ nap!

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You’re not alone.

There are others going through similar situations as you. People who have the ability to be empathetic to your situation are out there even if they’re not experiencing what you are. There are communities of people who won’t hesitate to build you up when you need it — & whom you’ll feel compelled to do the same with when they need it.

You are not alone. You can reach out & someone WILL listen. If they don’t, reach out again. It is okay to ask for help or an ear or commiseration. There is nothing to be ashamed of or apologetic for; you are one of many & YOU reaching out might empower someone else to do the same.

If you want to join a community of women who will boost you up when you need it & supports each other without judgement, I invite you to join us over in the Calculated Chaos Community. We are small but fierce & always growing together & learning together & you are welcome to come be a part of our special corner of the InterWebs.

Until next time…

Reta Jayne

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