Leah Lair Conner
Mental Health Matters
The month is almost over, and this is the first post I've made to support/talk about #mentalhealthawarenessmonth2023 Honestly, that's because my own mental health is not that great right now, and it's hard for me to preach or teach or share about something when it feels like doing so makes me a fraud (even though I know that's not the case). So...
How's everyone doing out there? It's okay to not be okay, and it's okay to talk about it. In fact, it will very likely HELP to talk about it!
Almost two years ago, I went off all meds - anxiety/depression meds, thyroid meds, migraine meds - all of it. I felt like my body needed an overall reset, and I wanted to know what it would feel like to be pharmaceutical-free. Other than the 25-30 pound weight gain, it has been really awesome, honestly, and I have not regretted it. I feel like I'm more myself, now, and I love that I can really FEEL the full range of human emotions. (I am NOT suggesting that anyone do the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing medication for your physical and/or mental health. This was just something I FELT I needed to try, to see if I feel overall better when unmedicated and to see if what I suspected was true - in the last handful of years, I've learned a lot and developed a lot of new HEALTHY coping mechanisms to help me manage my anxiety and depression.)
A few months ago, though, I started having more headaches than normal, and I had days that felt like my emotions might be, again, getting the best of me. I went to the doctor to discuss my concerns and have a full blood workup done. When he asked me if anything has changed in the last couple of months that might be added stressors to cause my headaches and/or increased emotionality, my immediate response was, "No, everything's fine, life is just rocking alo...! Oh, wait, yes, actually, there's A LOT. A WHOLE LOT going on that might be causing these symptoms!" Why is our go-to response always that everything's okay? I mean, I even had myself somewhat convinced, until I heard the words coming out my lying mouth.
My labs indicated that my physical health is just fine - even my thyroid was just fine, after no meds over several months. But what can't be seen on tests, my mental health, was faltering a bit. I've reached a place where sometimes I feel spread so thin, I can't give my full energy/attention to anyone or anything that needs it. I feel ineffective and unreliable. I feel like a failure and absolutely "not enough."
My doctor suggested re-starting my old faithful anti-depressant, Wellbutrin, and trying a new medicine for the headaches. I got both filled, and have taken the headache medicine a few times because it also helps me sleep, but I just can't make myself get back on the anti-depressant. It's for no other reason than that I prefer how I feel, physically, with no medicine in my system. And I'm managing, but I just feel a bit too much in survival mode for my taste, these days.
Those healthier coping mechanisms I mentioned before? It's time to make it MY PRIORITY to start practicing them, knowing that everything else will shift back into focus once I'm mentally healthier. Yes, mental health is THAT important. Just like having the flu can keep you down and unable to do life, so can poor mental health. So, treat the symptoms, allow time for healing, and then get back in the game, healthy - and continuing healthy practices to boost your mental immunity.
I feel both stagnant and overwhelmed, at once, and it's uncomfortable. BUT I've learned that with discomfort comes growth. And sometimes big breakthroughs. And there's always light, beckoning, from the other side.
Why am I sharing all this? Well, because I alway want people to know that I'm a safe place to discuss your own mental health, and I want people to know that it's okay to talk about this stuff. Most of us don't think twice about sharing when we're PHYSICALLY unwell. We all struggle. We all have times that are just harder than others, where we just feel off or overwhelmed or terrified or <insert negative emotion here>. That's okay. And it's okay to let yourself really FEEL all those things, without running from them or medicating (including alcohol or THC or whatever) them away. It's also ALWAYS okay to cry for help or cry for someone to just sit with you while you feel your way to healing.
#lovealwayswins #endthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #takecareofyourmind