Why do we believe we need to be strong in all that we do and all that we face in life? For some reason or another, we feel we must be OK, at the top of our game at all times and in total control. Well, I am here to tell you ladies and gentlemen… it is OK… to not be OK.
I used to think that if I looked as if I had it all together and told people I was OK… that I would be… with the power of positive thinking. But then I did crash and burn. I was too strong for too long. Something had to give.
My mental health declined with the pressure of drought, physical tiredness, financial challenges, changes in life, medical concerns and my focus to keep strong. I thought I was weak if I could not function properly. I thought I was weak if I was not in control of my usual daily life events. I avoided this misguided “weakness” within my mind.
But then one day, my health was failing severely. Physically I was losing control of my normal sleep functions, breathing became so much effort and I was terrified that I could not hold it all together any longer. I fell in a heap… and felt so ashamed. I had lost the grip on my usual control within my life. A usual control that I was renowned for. A strength that was the norm… now out of my reach.
Despite the love and support of my husband, I knew it was time to stop being so reluctant and frightened to seek medical advice. For me, it was more about admitting to myself that I was not OK and letting my guard down. Trusting my doctor was the first step… then laying it all out on the table was the next. I was distraught that I needed help… as help is something I don’t like to receive. I am very independent and like to think I can do it all… even though we all know that is just impossible.
Much to my surprise, my doctor was very understanding and had seen this many times before. My diagnosis was depression/anxiety and I was treated with medication. I was so embarrassed at first, that I never even told my mother for many months, despite our close connection. Sadly I believed it was a taboo subject… something so personal and I felt humiliated to be viewed as “weak”.
It is now, one year later and still on anti-depressant medication. I know now, that it is not about being “weak” at all. Although I am feeling great and feel I am back, the drought is still taking its toll on me, so medication will be needed a little longer.
But I can honestly say, that I am proud of myself for having the strength to know that I was not OK. I am proud that I reached out for help and I am not ashamed to admit I need medication as I keep depression at bay. There is no need for any of us to feel like we have everything under control. It is OK to not be OK. We just need to know that we have options for help. But your doctor is the first port of call.
I had received a lovely surprise phone call this morning from a dear old friend. A friend I had not spoken to for far too long. It has made my day entirely. As we discussed my health, changes in life, family and CWA… I was reminded of how special this wonderful lady is. I miss not seeing her and feel bad that I have not made more effort to keep in touch. I promised myself now that I will phone her regularly for a friendly chat.
The power of caring people and friendships in our lives are so important, yet under-estimated. The kindness, the ease of sharing personal experiences and her beautiful nature… has overwhelmed me this morning and made me smile. She is truly a beautiful soul and I forgot how happy her words in conversation make me. We all need more people like this in our lives. Appreciate those beautiful people that care for you, care for your well-being and make you smile.
The stigma around depression is only within each of us personally. If your loved one or your friend was not OK… this does not make you think any less of them. Naturally you would advise them to seek some help and love them no less. So when it is you personally, it does not change who you are… you just need a little guidance.
What I know now… I wish I knew back then. Depression/anxiety is just another challenge in our life that some of us will experience… and it needs a little help. Just another medical ailment that can be treated effectively. There is no need to feel embarrassed at all. It is OK to not be OK. Find the strength to reach out to your loved ones and medical practitioner.
Avoiding depression is not about positive thinking at all. Positive thinking does not control depressive feelings. Admitting that you are not OK and seeking help or advice… will give you back the power to find those positive things in your life once again.
We all deserve happiness and we all have the power to control our own thoughts and actions. Depression/anxiety is not a death sentence… it is another medical ailment that needs treating, no different to any other medical ailment. The real strength you find in this process will amaze you… and the struggle will only be a temporary hurdle. The power of positive thinking is not the answer to which you rely upon… rather the strength to reach out to seek help to get through it… and in no time the positive thinking will return.
Take care, Karen.
“The struggle you’re in today
is developing the strength
you need for tomorrow.”
~ Author Unknown