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Mental Health IS Health

Feb 11, 2022

By: Karyssa Shaw

Glasses for your brain. 

I’ve talked about this on our “In The Rack” Podcast but thought making it into a blog post would be a quick and easy way to help people understand that mental health is health. Your mental health should be just as important as your physical health. If someone is struggling with anxiety or depression like myself, they shouldn’t feel like going to therapy, being on medication, or needing a “mental health” day off from work should be frowned upon. I once heard someone say “medications for mental illnesses are just like glasses for your brain!”. Let’s treat it as such!

For me personally, I deal with the effects of anxiety and depression all the time, no matter what time of year. But most people will actually experience some sort of sadness/feeling down which is referred to as “seasonal depression” in the winter time. In the colder, more northern parts of the country, this seasonal depression presents itself when it starts getting dark at 4:00pm, it’s cold, and there isn’t as much sun. Believe it or not, Vitamin D has a HUGE impact on your serotonin and dopamine levels (the “happy hormones"). And where is the best place to get Vitamin D??… being out in the sun, which is exactly why more people experience depressive like symptoms in the winter. 

It’s not all that easy to help your friend get over the bumps in the road. Some assume saying things such as “cheer up” or “it’ll be okay” or “just think about how bad others have it” will automatically make someone feel better. Coming from someone who has heard that over and over in their life, IT DOESN’T HELP! If you want to help, lend an ear to let us vent or a shoulder to let us cry on. We just need someone who is going to take mental health seriously and not just assume we are sad, because depression isn’t just sadness. When mixed with anxiety, depression is staying home all day. It’s not wanting to go out with friends even though you know it would be good for you. It’s not having motivation to do anything! The house is dirty, laundry is piling up, the refrigerator is empty, and there are dirty dishes in the sink. I have felt all of this. There have been days where I have been so anxious over absolutely nothing. I would have a panic attack right before bed and then start thinking to myself “why me”. My savior in that moment when I was home alone with no one to lean on was a very close family friend who talked on the phone with me for 45 minutes at 11:00 at night. He was my rock. 

And you want to know what has helped right? Well it is different for everyone. For me, a good mix of therapy, antidepressants, and friends/family who will know how to be your rock. Although I have been struggling to find a therapist who is taking new patients, I know I will find someone soon. In the meantime, I take my medicine every morning, find the things in life I'm grateful for, and take it day by day. I recently started going to acupuncture which I have found super helpful. It plays a very similar role to antidepressants. It helps release those happy hormones which allow me to relax and get myself into a clear headspace. 

I know it can be hard, trust me! Things will get better if you say they will get better. Try new things - go to the gym and try a group exercise class, start baking, adopt a pet, and GO TO THERAPY! The stigma around going to therapy needs to be broken, because in all reality, it saved me. If you’re looking for more information or want to listen to a little bit more about my journey with how I deal with my anxiety and depression, please listen to Episode 29 of the “In The Rack” Podcast. It is available on our website as well as Spotify and Apple Music. You can also reach out to me by email - [email protected] I will be your rock.

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