May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Depression. It is a hidden, silent, disease. You wouldn’t know someone had it unless they told you. Approximately one in five adults in the United States, 43.8 million, or 18.5%, experiences a mental illness in a given year and approximately one in five youth aged 13–18 experiences a severe mental health disorder at some point during their lifetime. This is a very serious issue and not to be taken lightly.

We need to take care of our minds just as much as we take care of our bodies. Mental health is important for our physical health and vice versa. Well-balanced nutrition, a good sleep schedule, exercise, gut health, and hydration all affect our mental and physical health. Studies have shown that individuals who have chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure or autoimmune disorders have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. Our bodies and mind act as one unit and therefore it is important to care for both our emotional and mental states as well as our physical health

I have battled with depression most of my adult life, since I was 17, before that I felt something was of with me but never identified it. For the longest time I was embarrassed to say I had it. Afraid of what people would think or that they would see me as weak. So I hid it for a very long time. Then I learned to not give a f*ck because I realized I can’t control what others think about me and when people criticize it only means they don't understand so they will judge or have something negative to say. Plus I feel and have learned that being vulnerable, sharing our stories helps us to connect with others. We are here to help and love each other as God created us to do.

I used to say I “struggled” with it but I have changed my mindset towards it, so I now say I battle it, because to me it is a fight, a fight I go to war with. It is no longer a struggle but has become a battle which the majority of the time, I win!

Anyone that has depression knows... It doesn’t go away. We may have periods where we are good then BAM it hits like a freight train out of nowhere. Sometimes there is a trigger but a lot of times it is for no particular reason.

The old Rose would curl up in bed for weeks, not that I don’t still do that periodically, but it has become less often that I resort to hiding under my covers and if I do it is shorter periods of time.

These are some things I have learned, done and that have gotten me through my dark periods. These are just a few things I have done and habits I have created. I will expand more on other changes during the month of May. I also want to say, these don’t make depression go away, there is not a cure, they are just ways to better manage and deal with day to day challenges. It also doesn’t mean that I still don’t have my dark days, where I crawl into bed and hide away from the world. In fact the past 4 weeks have been a battle. I spent about a week in bed which I haven't done in a very long time. I forced myself to go to work, eat and get some exercise but other than that, I was buried under my covers. Those that understand depression know, sometimes that’s all I can do. But my ‘tough love’ attitude kicks in and I say....OK Rose, enough of the bullshit, get your ass out of bed, get up and get back to life! Even though I was functioning I was still carrying the depression, forcing smiles, conversations and just daily activities but at the end of the day, I feel better because I DIDN'T hide, I DIDN'T allow it to consume me and I strengthened and enforced my mind and spirit.

So here are the things I have changed, learned and done to better deal with this disorder.

**The #1 thing has been changing my mindset. My attitude and mindset has changed on many things in life iver the years and my depression is one of them. I used to view it as a crutch, weakness or had the “why me” attitude. But I realize God gives us what He knows we can handle and there is purpose in it. It is hard to see though when you are in the thick of it so I when I wasn’t suffocating in it was when I decided to make a plan for when the monster showed up. Its kind of like going to war, you have to have a plan of attack or you will get destroyed. My mindset also changed in how I viewed depression, Instead of seeing it as a disease, I view it as a gift. Turn a negative into a positive. My gift (depression) highlites my strengths. Shows what I am made of, how I can overcome, rise up and not allow the beast to destroy me. You see, God gifted me with depression to bring out the best in me!

**Along that same thought process, I added daily prayer and meditation. I Practice positive mindfulness in my thoughts and conversations. I Stay away from people that bring me down, don’t support me or are always speaking negatively

**An big factor physically, I found for me was staying hydrated. I noticed that when I did go into a dark place, like most everyone, I stop doing EVERYTHING, which makes me feel worse and water is the biggest one for me. Getting at least 3 liter or more a day.

Staying connected to friends, not shutting everyone out. THis is another difficult one when I am in a bad place but I know the importance of connection and staying present in daily relationships which crosses over to spending more “in person” interactions and less “screen time”

**The obvious, exercise and good nutrition. I have said it before, the gym has saved me more times than I can count. It is the best therapy for mind, body and spirit.

**The last thing is I will touch on in this post, don’t be so hard on myself. When I am in my darkness I beat myself up which just adds fuel to the fire so i have learned to be gentle on myself like I would be with a friend but also know when to give myself that tough love speech saying...Get your ass out of bed now, you can’t allow this demon to control your life!!

I will be writing more on this during the month of May and be going into more detail on nutrition, exercise, supplements and other tools and things I have done to help better manage living with depression.

As always please reach out to me if you need any help or have questions.

Disclaimer: If you believe you suffer from anxiety, depression, or any other mental health illness, please see a mental health professional as soon as possible.