Several Sunday mornings in February and March, we’ve heard mission moments about the worsening mental
health epidemic in our culture. Kaye Wothe shared that one in three people struggle or will struggle with depression or anxiety, and she invited us to look down the pew for the visual of every third person being affected by mental health issues.
She also shared that the two main reasons people don’t get help are how difficult it is to navigate treatment options and the healthcare system, and the cultural stigma. Given all of this, I’d like to raise my hand to say that I am the one in three that has, and still does, struggle with mental health issues. If one of the barriers is stigma, let’s get real and talk about it!
I come from a family with a history of issues in this area, although I didn’t experience it myself till my first year of college when I had a hard time adjusting to a new life stage and started feeling symptoms of depression: I was sad most of the time and wanted to sleep more than my body needed, to name a couple. Luckily, because my family was very experienced and open about mental health struggles, they noticed these symptoms and quickly got me help through a counselor and medication.
I hated having to rely on meds to feel normal, but my family supported me by reminding me that “You could keep going on how you are, but why? You’re sick and need medicine to help right now.” To really convince me, my dad described it this way: “If you had a deep, gushing wound, would you put a Band-Aid on it or just try to tough it out? No! You’d rush to the hospital to get help. This is no different.”
I couldn’t really argue with that, so I continued my treatment until I was able to successfully wean off my meds and my mind and body adjusted to my new life as a young adult.
But, as is common with mental health – or physical health, for that matter – it’s not one and done. There have been other situations where the wound has started to re-open. But now, I’m equipped to notice the signs before anything starts to gush again. Most recently, I experienced pretty extreme post-partum anxiety after returning to unprecedented craziness at work after my second son was born. Add in sleep deprivation and postpartum hormones, and it was a perfect storm. I, again, turned to medication and counseling and, if I’m being honest, I’m still having trouble almost two years later – the longest bout I’ve ever had. I’ve tried several times to wean myself from what I affectionately call my “no crazy” pills, but haven’t yet been successful.
While this really eats away at me sometimes (Do I really need medication to survive my life?), I’m lucky that I have a strong support system at home and with my doctors. Without that support, I don’t really know where I’d be or how I would’ve gotten through the “dark times” after my last maternity leave.
That’s why I’m so proud that Shepherd of the Hills is partnering with Mental Health Connect to help people who don’t have built-in support or know where to turn to get the resources they need to get healthy. Check out information in this newsletter or in our weekly Sunday bulletins to learn more about this partnership and about the April 27 silent auction to raise funds for the cause.
This is important work. I mean, one in three of us need this help! I’m so glad we are taking so many opportunities to overcome the stigma and talk about mental health.