1.20.2020

No Stigmas Please



Today I shared an update on our middle son after seeing him exceed and shine doing something he loves.  This would be amazing for anyone, but for a child who has had a few really rough years it is even more precious to us.  You may recall he struggled two years ago with a huge roadblock of mental health issues and has been healing and recovering and learning to live within the new bounds ever since.  I only share my side of the story because it is the only one I can tell, and it is the only one I have a right to tell, and every single time I bring it up I am flooded with messages.  So many of you so lovingly commented, responded, sent me messages of your own stories, and so much more.  It always evokes a number of responses, all positive, and always makes me think.


I think our response to mental health issues has changed so much but still has so much further to go.  As a mother seeing my son struggle I was well aware it was not something we did or didn't do, but does everyone feel that way?  Do we talk about it enough that people feel comfortable sharing with their friends when their child needs something more? Do we talk about it as openly as we would if they had the flu or a broken arm?  Do our children feel comfortable enough to talk about it to us when they feel off, or anxious or more?  Is it something we talk about in schools enough so that our children talk to their teachers, best friends, or church leaders?  Are we doing enough ...

I think about this a lot as both someone who struggles with anxiety and someone whose child also struggles with anxiety and depression.  I think I feel more sensitive to talking about it knowing that my son talking to me is what saved him in the end along with the right doctors and people along the way.  A few missed steps and things could have been so different and those lessons I learned are so helpful to me now that I am going through my own struggle (minor compared to his).  I am very aware that I need something outside of our home to help me through and I am also aware that so many people along the way talked to me, checked on me and made me aware that I would have things I needed to unpack when it was time.

But do we do that for all near us?

I was truly blessed.  I had more than one nurse/tech check in on me during our hospital stay.  They regularly asked me how I was holding up.  They told me to drink water and eat protein and, most importantly, to get enough sleep.  I had one precious friend reach out and tell me I would need help when it was over, as she did when the serious surgeries for her children were complete.  His doctors encouraged me to rest more, stay home some, and to watch myself during it all.  When I really hit the skids at the hospital an er doctor took the time to reassure me I didn't do anything wrong and "no one could manage it" and gave me peace in taking care of myself.  My dear friends reminded me to rest, drink water and eat snacks even when it felt selfish.  My mother packed me bananas to keep my potassium under control as best as it could be.  I had help and I still had a rude awakening when I came home and all the adrenaline peeled off.  But that help I had really did make me think when it got rough.  I had heard people tell me I would need help.  When I reached out after the anxiety attacks and PTSD kicked in I found someone to help me and now I am healing, but does everyone?

Can you see I think about this so much?  I am always wondering if others have the same blessings I do, same friends I do, same people to intervene for them.

And before you ask ... if you are curious ... I am an enneagram type 2.

I have talked about it a lot and will still talk about it as I learn to manage the emotions and what appears to be my new life.  I am thankful for the tools I am learning to add to my toolbox as I am trying to stay on top of my anxiety and take the best care of me that I can.  It is a process and some days are a whole lot better than others, but all in all it is much better now than it was two months ago.  I am in therapy, I take medication, I need to up my protein intake and watch my caffeine among other things. It is a process, a journey and one I will be on for a while.

But I think the biggest thing for me is truly being able to talk about it like it was a cold or allergies and not feel weird about it.  Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues and truly just health issues and need to be managed and talked about just like we would anything else.  We need to offer each other support, and be open when our friends ask how we are and what we did that day.  The more we talk about it the better it will be for all.  I can recall when our middle son was first diagnosed with his chromosome issues and I knew NO ONE with a child that had any genetic issue at all.  Literally not one single person.  He was dealing with a big occupational therapy delay + sensory issues and not one friend had anything similar.  Now just 15 years later it is talked about so much, almost as much as how we take our coffee, and it brings me such peace knowing no one will feel alone like I did when it happened to me.  I look forward to the day when it is the same for mental health.

So what tools have I added to my toolbox so far?  Well, that is an ongoing answer but I can share that essential oils have helped quite a bit.  They keep me feeling more relaxed on an every day basis and have helped a few times when I feel the tightness in my chest beginning.  I use lavender, peace + calming, frankincense and vetiver, together and separately.  I am drinking more water ... as a hydrated body is best for health.  I am making sure I get enough sleep and adding in a nap when I need one. I am striving to not be over scheduled which only feeds the stress. I am trying to cut down my caffeine (more decaf coffee + tea) as this just feed anxiety.  I am choosing music around the house that makes me feel happy and relaxed since "you can not be relaxed and anxious at the same time".  I have a book or needlepoint with me when I need to refocus. I have a list of two people I can call when I feel the emotions rising ... which is a huge help.  And most of all I am trying to give myself all the grace I can as I know this is just a by product of trauma and life and isn't anything I could have avoided.  It is what it is and I will learn to cope the best I can.

I hope my story helps someone, anyone, to feel more comfortable talking about their own journey.  I look forward to the day when its a daily, hourly topic and no one feels alone.  I am talking about it now and am here to openly share my story in the hopes that it helps someone the way my friend's story helped me.  It was brave of her to share ... I knew she cared about me ... and that is the best gift she could have given me.  I so hope my journey is a gift to someone else.

1 comment:

  1. Sweet friend...so much yes to this post! I have found by sharing our story, many a family member and myself have had to deal with mental illness, I have honestly been blessed. So many me toos!! We were never meant to walk this journey alone. I also feel that in sharing, I am sharing the testimony that God gave me to share. To encourage others. So thankful for you!!

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