Let’s Erase the Stigma of Mental Health

Seriously. No one should feel bad or ashamed, because they go to a therapist. We need to erase the stigma surrounding mental health in this country.

When I was battling severe depression, it was doubly exhausting to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders as I felt the need to hide my issues from others. Anyone with depression knows, it zaps your energy enough to then put so much into keeping it all a secret. But at the time, it felt necessary for me. I felt ashamed and less than because I was struggling with a sadness so severe that I could barely function. It made me have an anxiety attack once just to go and talk casually with a potential new employer about work I really wanted to do for them, because the thought of having to be ‘on’ and ‘sell myself’ was THAT overwhelming. It was also no fun to be on the verge of tears literally all the time, yet still have to go to work and hold them back. I avoided talking to people. I avoided phone calls. I avoided as much life as I possibly could. I always worried that my secret would be found out, which at the time terrified me. I felt like I was broken.

Just taking the steps to find my first therapist was daunting. But that step ended up being crucial to turning things around. I went to someone who had me try loads of natural supplements and even a SAD light as I was living in a rainy, gray Oregon winter at the time. When none of those worked, we moved onto medications. First Prozac which helped me immensely at the time. Then there became a need for less side effects, so I saw a psychiatrist to have my meds adjusted. Moved onto Wellbutrin. Then eventually landed on Lexapro. The names of medications don’t really matter, because they’re what I needed at the time. I write this for anyone else who has struggled with depression and has taken multiple medications before finding the ‘right’ one. There was a time when I thought I’d be taking Lexapro indefinitely, because of how my doctors believed my Lyme Disease was affecting me.

You are not alone. Many of us deal with mental illness and most don’t talk about it. I’ve been able to move past my years of depression, with appreciation that I’ve experienced such lows in my life. Those things we’re most ashamed of tend to connect us the most deeply with our fellow humans. This human life can be really difficult. We aren’t taught positive ways to cope, so we end up getting completely overwhelmed when challenges inevitably arise. If you’re like me, then you may relate to the fact that I used to internalize everything happening around me as something that was my fault. As a child growing up in a tense household, I took all of the negative energy on as my own and it was the start of my depression. I felt confused, alone, and unlovable.

It is my hope that in sharing, I can help remove the stigma for just one person currently being challenged by mental illness. You are not alone. Do not be ashamed of needing to see a therapist. It’s brave of you to take that step and you should be proud of yourself for recognizing when you need help and asking for it. I know none of it is easy for you.

Know that many therapists will offer a sliding scale if you lack insurance that covers it. Don’t let money stop you. There are ways. If you’re a student, check in with your school. One of the best counselors I ever went to was at the community college I attended for nursing school. She was in training, but she was the best for offering practical and positive ways to cope with my stressors at the time, which was my health crisis.

Know too that you might not find the ‘right’ therapist for you on the first try. I have been to several and they are not all the same. I’ve had some that were a good fit and some that were a terrible fit. I was once so overwhelmed with life that I asked my therapist directly for positive coping mechanisms to get me through the stress I was feeling. She didn’t offer me any that day, and I never went back to her again. You know yourself better than anyone. If you’re not having a good experience with your therapist, trust yourself and find a new one. Of course be mindful that you’re not just sabotaging it, because you never wanted to go in the first place. But your therapist should help you feel better overall, and you should feel safe and heard.

Pay attention to your intuition or repeating messages. Is a particular office calling to you? Do people around you keep mentioning the name of the SAME therapist to you? Do you keep seeing an advertisement for a particular therapist over and over? Follow those leads, because your higher self is guiding you. Trust it.

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Intuitive Eating

I’m seeing all of the posts about Nipsey Hussle’s death and the fact that he was working on a documentary exposing the natural healing work of Dr. Sebi. From what I have read, Dr. Sebi’s work, in part, was pointing us towards an alkaline, plant-based diet. It is known to be healing and is thought to prevent dis-eases such as cancer. The work of Dr. Sebi was known in the 1980’s. He had published that a cure for AIDS had been found after he had cured people with AIDS. He was taken to federal court and won.

People have to be told like a public service announcement that fruits and vegetables are the healthiest options for us. I think all too often, like most other things, people have shut off their intuition in exchange for following the crowd. This presents in food as fad diets. It seems like everyone is on some kind of specialized diet these days. But what if we’re meant to listen to our own bodies?

I have come to realize that the best way to eat is by following my intuition. Our intuition can be a guide for EVERYTHING! It’s like our own, personal, specialized system geared towards returning OUR body to it’s perfect state of wellness.

We get off track when we choose to ignore the way foods make us feel. When we eat something even though it makes us feel terrible, we are in fact ignoring messages from our bodies and our intuition. I think a decision based in self-love would be choosing to eat what makes us feel good, and gives us more energy and vitality. I get it, a lot of things sold at the grocery store and restaurants make us feel bad when we eat them, so then what DO we eat?!

In my experience over the last 8 months, I eat more fruits and vegetables. I’ve been led to a diet that is vegan, but I also don’t eat gluten or soy. I don’t drink alcohol. Why? Because I’ve noticed that I feel terrible after I eat/drink those things. I started paying attention to how everything I ate or drank made me feel. If something makes me feel good, I eat or drink more of it. If it makes me feel bad, I eliminate it. And what I am realizing is that I have been naturally led to a plant-based, alkaline diet.

When we ignore messages from our bodies, the messages get louder. I had noticed small things going on with my health long before my heart nearly failed. I didn’t realize they were happening because of something I was doing: ignoring my heart and intuition.

We can all learn to tap into and use our intuition to heal ourselves. It’s not easy work when you realize the work it’s going to take to finally face past traumas and trapped emotions in order to get healthy again, but the work is worth it. Our physical ailments usually don’t happen over night which means the patterns that got us there won’t change over night. But we CAN change them.

If we learn to follow our intuition, it strengthens and becomes easier to use. When we stop doing things that don’t feel good, we are putting our well-being first which is key to healing ourselves.

Our minds are very powerful, so we must also be mindful of what we are saying about the things we’re doing or eating/drinking. If we’re choosing to eat the dessert, it does us no good to talk and think about how bad it is for us the entire time we eat it. You’re essentially cursing the food you eat as opposed to blessing it. That food’s negative effects are then compounded. Whereas, when I go to the Sikh Temple and partake in Langar after worship, I am grateful for their sharing and I eat the flat bread offered. They bless their food during the entire time of worship and I set the intention that it will bless and nourish my body. It’s my exception for gluten during the week, and I notice I don’t have problems with it later. I believe there is a lot of power in blessing our food and water before we consume it.

Notice the difference in how you feel when you curse your food vs bless it. I have come to learn that our thoughts play a primary role in our wellness or dis-ease. Get quiet and pay attention to your thoughts about food. Pay attention to what your intuition and body are telling you to eat or avoid. You can heal yourself.❤️

Picture from post by the_enlighten_core on Instagram

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