Bonjour, mes amies! I'm doing things a little bit differently this Monday. Instead of my Happy Monday list, I am instead writing about something near and dear to my heart: mental health. Just this morning on NPR, I listened to story about a Stanford theater group that just put on a"show" about just that.
Here's an exerpt from the NPR article:
"Some are first hit with the illness in college. Stanford University senior Amanda Gelender found herself battling a deep depression for the first time her freshman year. After weeks of going it alone, exhausted and "crying under the covers for hours" in the dorm, she says, she finally called her doctor. She was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and found significant relief, she says, with the right medication and other support that enabled her to stay on campus and even keep up her near 4.0 grade average.
Still, for years, she never told friends, professors or dorm-mates of her diagnosis or ongoing struggle. "I felt like the most isolated person in the world," she says of that time. "I didn't feel like anybody would understand what I was going through."
Last January, Gelender broke her silence. She's the co-founder of a student theater group called Stanford Theatre Activist Mobilization Project (STAMP), and for a project last winter, STAMP solicited anonymous true-life letters from classmates living with depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health problems. In January, Gelender and the group dramatized the accounts as monologues in their theater production, Out of Sight, Out of Mind."
Interesting concept... Although the monologues I heard this morning were overacted and borderlinecheesy, the message is very, very real. Mental health is a big deal! But it still has a negative stigma associated with it, which prevents people from seeking help. Tres unfortunate.
Although I'm not shouting it from the rooftops, I've never tried to hide my history with depression. I admit that the idea of it can still make me uncomfortable, especially since most people that meet me assume I'm a particularly bubbly and happy girl. But recently I've been overcome with a wave of fatigue and exhaustion that I haven't felt in a long time. And despite my best intentions to ignore it, fear crept into my mind and took over and thus began the downward spiral. What if I'm depressed again? What will I do? I can't DROP OUT of my job!! Omg omg OMG. (You know the drill...) It doesn't help that I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed at work these days and desperately feel the need to hibernate.
Do I think I'm depressed again? No. I think my body is telling me that I'm tired, and that I need more sleep and rest. And that it's okay to spend a couple days in bed on the weekend if that's what I need. (Also? It's OK to be behind on blogs and online book clubs and all that jazz. Fun stuff like that should never become a burden.) Do I think I need to keep an eye on things? Oui, bien sur. I never want to go back to that dark place, but I also don't want to live in fear of it either. I just have to pay attention to my mind and my body. They will tell me when I need to take it easy. I have to trust them. And should I ever find myself in that place again, I'll be ready for it. After all, I have a pretty incredible team on my side. ;)
Mental health is not an easy topic, and the word "depressed" has become so commonplace that it's easily ignored. But if you really, truly feel like you may be suffering from it or another ailment, I highly suggest that you seek some help. Most insurance policies cover it, and if not, many places offer a sliding scale type payment where they will work with you and what you can afford. And, as always, I'm here for anyone who has questions, needs to vent, or simply needs a friend. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.