YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I am honored to guest blog for Jessy! May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I am privileged to support Jessy as she brings awareness and support for anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I want to be transparent about my own
experiences with mental health.

I have suffered at some time in my life from each of the above conditions. I have also been grieved by the suicide of loved ones, friends, and our youth. My own children are passing through their high school and college years, and this year we have already had three suicides at my youngest child’s high school. This unprecedented number of suicides in our area and a
devastating tragedy. Awareness could not be more important than it is today.

If you are working or suffering from the strain of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, or SAD, you are not alone. Often, this is the first thought that we have when we are struggling. We feel alone and are certain we are on our own in our adversity. For me, this is a crucial point in my experience with mental health. Once I have decided that I am on my own without help or anyone who cares, I fall deeper into despair. I typically suffer from bouts of anxiety when I become overwhelmed with my life and the pressures that it puts upon me. We cannot live well when we are overscheduled and overworked. This type of ongoing stress will cause a permanent state of anxiousness and panic.

Did you know that anxiety
often leads to depression? When we cannot gain control over our
anxiety, we will often feel hopeless and frustrated. When these feelings persist, they can develop into depression. My depression is often what doctors call “situational.” I am typically a happy individual, but when circumstances or situations cause elevated levels of stress, overwhelming problems, or sadness, I can fall into depression. Once the “situation” that is causing the problem is relieved, I am also rid of the anxiety and depression. It is not often resolved quickly, and it usually becomes a chronic condition until the situation has changed or improved.

So, what can we do to help ourselves and others? There are many types of depression. Situational depression is only one type. We must also be aware that
everyone has a unique set of circumstances and body chemistry that defines their depression. Therefore, each person will respond differently to solutions and treatment.

I want to share what has helped me and what I have learned. I want to emphasize that what is helpful to me may be different for others. I do want to emphasize that there is help for all of us and that you do not have to walk this road alone. 

The first and most important thing that we can do is to tell someone we trust how we are feeling. This could be a trusted friend, family member, spouse, or a therapist. It is important to ask for help. This often begins healing. It is not the best idea to try to handle this on our own.

Once we have shared our despair and struggles, we should assess basic needs. Are we eating, sleeping, drinking enough water, and getting fresh air? I know this sounds simplistic, but our diet, sleep, and other basic needs affect our bodies and minds. Exercise, such as taking a walk outdoors, can help elevate our moods. Are we working too much? Do we need to slow down? Take an assessment. I am a spiritual person, and when I focus on time with God each day, it makes a considerable difference in my mental health. When I am suffering, there is no greater comfort for me than God’s infinite love and care for me. A powerful book to be in during times of sorrow is Psalms. King David called out to God many times in the books of Psalms. I want to end this post with a few of the many comforting verses in the book of Psalms.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46: 1.

“I waited patiently
for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of
the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and
gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalms 40:12

God is there for you always, and so are many others. If you do not feel that you can reach out to loved ones and friends, speak with your doctor, a health professional, or a counselor. You are loved, and your life and happiness matter!

Sherry W. Grant, BA
Graduate Student
Adjunct Instructor of English
Birth Doula
Writer & Mother of two amazing boys!

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