DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal tips for mental health. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about how to improve your mental health.
I knew I needed to go to therapy for a while before I actually went. I made excuses that I didn’t have time and that I was dealing with everything in my life and in my mind well enough on my own. In reality, I wasn’t.
I was struggling in silence and going through the motions, trying to hold on while ignoring how I actually felt. I was too stubborn to ask for help and uncomfortable sharing with my loved ones how helpless I felt.
Instead of dealing with my feelings I ignored them, literally shoving them out of my mind for all but five minutes a day. That was the amount of time I gave myself every day to “feel my feelings.” When the five minutes were up, it was back to business.
I told myself I had too much on my plate to acknowledge my feelings.
I had stuff to do, and dealing with my feelings was not on my list. My refusal to deal with everything going on in my life and in my mind was detrimental to not only my mental health, but my physical health as well.
Things in my life reached a breaking point when my husband died of cancer in 2018. I knew I had to go to therapy because I could no longer shove my feelings to the back burner after five minutes. The week after his funeral, I started therapy, and went twice a week for several months.
It felt so good to talk about how I felt about all of the changes in my life that had occurred over the last several years. I felt better after each session and I liked my therapist. But I wasn’t actually making much progress. I spent so much time avoiding my feelings that I had subconsciously blocked some memories from my mind.
It wasn’t until three years later–after dealing with bad anxiety and depression–that I spoke with my new therapist about medication to assist me with my mental heath struggles.
I have never been big on taking medication, but I knew that I needed something else to help. I had learned a plethora of techniques. I started journaling, I was still regularly seeing my therapist, and I still didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel well. And knowing I didn’t feel right, I also knew that meant I wasn’t showing up as the best version of me for my son, my family, and myself.
So I started Zoloft, an antidepressant, in January 2022. In March 2022 I had a breakthrough with my therapist that was a turning point for me. Some of the things that I had repressed came back, allowing me to share them with my therapist and actually deal with the thoughts and feelings I had subconsciously ignored for so long. I was able to work through things that had been holding me back mentally and emotionally for years. I found a greater sense of peace and mental clarity.
Five months after starting Zoloft, with the support of my therapist, I weaned myself off.
I still see my therapist, I still journal, and I am still intentional about making my mental health a priority. Most importantly, I’m glad that I finally acknowledged that I needed help and had access to the appropriate resources.
I share my story to give a voice to mental health because mental health does not discriminate. During Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond, let’s remember that it’s okay to say you’re not okay. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to not know how to deal with some of the thoughts and feelings that come up as we navigate through life and motherhood.
The thing about ignoring your mental health needs is that things don’t miraculously get better on their own. You can wish, hope, and pray for that to happen, but until you get intentional about making your mental health a priority, you won’t truly begin to grow, heal, and thrive as your best self.
During a time when minority suicide, alcohol, and drug abuse rates continue to rise, mental health resources are more important than ever. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to access a variety of mental health resources:
Make your mental health and peace of mind a priority, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.