Monday, October 19, 2009

Mental Monday

{Image from here}

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 carolyn.park@gmail.com.

Have a WONDERFUL Monday, my darlings!!

14 comments:

Carolyn said...

You are such a corageous young woman for sharing..mental illness can be so isolating and should not be. Merci for reaching out..Hugs

Sarah said...

Great post! Such an important topic. More colleges seems to be forming groups to promote awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma. Two weeks ago, I did some depression screenings for college students at LMC. It is sad that some of the students still deny their feelings and refuse to look into alternatives.

naturally nina said...

Carolyn, this is such an important post and I love that you had the courage to write about it... Thanks my dear.

Ellecubed said...

Thank you so so much for this post Carolyn. It is something I have been struggling with a lot lately and I have been having difficulty articulating it. Thank you so much for this.

positively present said...

Excellent post, Carolyn. You really spoke to me (and a lot of other people, from the look of the comment section so far!) with this one. Thanks for sharing this.

Caitlin said...

ThankyouthankyouTHANKYOU!

Carolyn said...

Ladies - i'm beyond thrilled to hear that this post has touched you! I questioned whether i should have written it or not, and i'm so glad i made the right decision. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Bethlin said...

See, I follow your blog as an Austinite interested in the cute fun things you post about, and then I get a post like this that just RESONATES. I went through my own depression/anxiety stage and have had the same response to those times in life when I just need to slow down (oh no! it's beginning again! i'll have to change my name and move across the country to start over!). Good for you on knowing when to take care of yourself and good for you for not being ashamed of sharing it with the rest of us.

Christine Claire Reed said...

Carolyn,

Ahh...we are on the same page right now.

I have overcome depression and anxiety -- at least that severe level that I suffered from for so long.

BUT. But I have tendencies, ya know, and I know that if I don't really take care of myself physically, the mental bad habits come sneaking in.

I think of people like us like those little canaries they would use to test the oxygen in mines. We are very sensitive to our environments, and if it's just slightly off, well...you know what would happen to the canary.

So take care of yourself. It HAS to be our number one priority. There ARE some people who can go without sleep and then just catch up but we aren't those people and that's not a judgment of us.

kaileenelise said...

wow. thank you for sharing your thoughts on such a misunderstood topic. i commend you for your openness and positivity. xo, kaileenelise

Collins said...

Wow. Very cool of you to post this. I myself have and will always battle depression. But I am one of the lucky ones who made it to a therapist and is working on it. It's a tough thing but it can get better! Anyway - just wanted to say great post and get some rest!

Globetrotting Cacti said...

Thanks for sharing this. I agree that you need to look after your-self and also be on the look out and be supportive of friends. You are right - you have a great team on your side.

shannon said...

this post came to mind today at work where i sometimes have to cover an involuntary mental health commitment or two. the one i handled today was particularly frustrating mainly b/c it involved a lady with an eating disorder. if "regular" mental health issues are hard for some to understand, eating disorders are so much worse. the doctor didn't seem to think she was a danger to herself even though she is severely underweight and sick. Hello?!?! since when is starving yourself not putting yourself in danger? mental health remains an enigma, even in the medical profession, in my opinion. it's also something that many people just don't want to deal with.

sorry, just had to vent today's frustrations! :)

Rachel said...

Thank you for your honesty!! If you never need anything or to talk, let me know.