December 11, 2022 ~by K.J. Joseph
Mornings can be hard, especially during winters in Minneapolis. It is snowing today. Not the fluffy wonderland kind, but the kind that slushes the streets and holds back Mother Nature with a thick heavy blanket of sleet. Winter can be magical, but lack of sunlight can slump one’s energy into hibernation.
It is days like this that I’m reminded that it is my choice to manage my clinical depression. Mental illness doesn’t heal completely like a cold or cut. It takes constant work and is a personal journey. As usual, I get up out of bed and take my antidepressant medication, my vitamins, drink plenty of water, and eat breakfast even though I’m not hungry. I know if I don’t eat something my medication will make me feel sick to my stomach. That isn’t a good way to start off my day.
I have celiac disease, so I already have to be careful on my diet. If I eat gluten and get sick, it is much easier to spiral out into a depression. Today is Sunday. I go into my office to turn my light therapy lamp on for ten minutes. No sun for days during winters isn’t good for a human body. I sit at my desk and start to read emails.
The most important thing I’ve learned about helping my mental well-being over the years is to deliberately remind myself that I AM NOT ALONE.
NOBODY IS ALONE.
The latest reminder of not feeling alone was delivered my way while I was flipping through Apple TV this past week. What a gift it was.
“My Mind & Me,” is a documentary about Selena Gomez’s struggle with mental illness. For those of you that don’t know me, I self-published my memoir about my life dealing with clinical depression in Spring of 2020. Simply Because We Are Human, I wrote with the intention of helping others and to assist in breaking down the stigmas associated with mental health. Gomez did exactly that for me as I watched her documentary. I saw myself in her. I was reminded once more that I am not alone. For that gift I am thankful for. It was like a warm fuzzy blanket being folded around me while I drank hot chocolate on a cold day.
Mental illness doesn’t consider all the fortunate privileges and things you have going in life. Mental illness doesn’t care. It just takes you down…down into your own shell of a body disconnecting you from yourself, therefore taking away everything you know and love. Mental illness doesn’t allow a person to recognize themself anymore because it doesn’t allow them to be themself, only watch themself.
Anybody can tell you that has struggled with some form of depression or mental illness that it’s so soul suckingly terrifying that they wouldn’t wish it on their own worst enemy. In fact, just the smallest hint of a reminder that it exists is like be startled by an alley cat while walking the streets at night alone.
I don’t have to say it for people to know that sharing intimate details is really difficult. One, because it is very scary to put yourself out there naked and vulnerable for the world to see and respond to. Secondly, mental health is socially stigmatized in a bad way. The word crazy or lunatic seems to be used rather than discussing the actual facts on the illness. Lastly, when talking about your own mental illness it brings up so much unexpected difficult personal items. It can be draining and hard to get through.
I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone that hasn’t seen, “My Mind and Me.” I will say that you should watch if you get a chance. It is important for people to be aware of mental illness and how to help others and themselves. We go to the Doctor without question if we break a leg. Why is it when it comes to the mind, we have difficulty going to the Doctor to treat ourselves? This needs to change. It will with people like Gomez who aren't afraid to speak their truth and concerns. From the bottom of my heart to yours, Selena Gomez, thank you for being brave enough to speak your truth. You will never know just how many people you have helped and even saved.