I love the fact that we’re living in an era of transparency and access to information. Social media and the rise of the ‘eyewitness reporter’ deliver more data that we can consume. And while the issues of gender equality and women empowerment will always remain close to my heart, I’m finding the increased discourse around mental health equally significant.
I, for one, am being educated on this illness, its silent effects, the masks those suffering are ‘forced’ to wear and maybe most importantly, the use of language in describing this devastating condition which is on the rise globally. What stands out for me is that by saying someone ‘committed suicide’ alludes to a logical, clear, healthy mind making a decision, then taking action. Nothing is further from the truth.
It took me more than 18 months and a fortune in self-medication and naturopath healing to finally receive a medical diagnosis of a hormone imbalance.
This has made me reevaluate my own struggles that I nonchalantly ascribed to having young kids when some of my peers are welcoming and preparing for grandkids. It took me more than 18 months and a fortune in self-medication and naturopath healing to finally receive a medical diagnosis of a hormone imbalance. I’ll write about this in more detail, but the point is that my anxiety, stress and what I now understand as post-natal depression, were never going to go away by ‘snapping out of it’ or ‘being grateful for the beautiful children’ or ‘that I’m so much better off than many others’.
As much as I prefer natural, healthier options, medication is the critical factor to my health and wellness right now. A few months back, I had found myself in a slump driven by the treatment regime that had me feeling like a hypochondriac; take this before food, after food, make sure there is no skin contact within 2 hours and so on. So, bundled in a ball of tears and as I am sometimes wont to do, give up, I announced that I was going to leave the medication and try the natural route.
The reaction from Mr T told the whole story. “You can’t just do that without consultation, you can’t make that decision on your own as it affects the family”. In that moment, I realised two things. First, I had been in such a bad state that my family was ‘terrified’ of me without medication and then, positively, that I was actually on the mend.
There’s very little that we are in control of.
I often have conversations with my dear friend, Sindile on when to ‘treat on your own’ and when to reach for the pills. What’s clear for me is that we are alive during extraordinary times of mass manipulation. There’s very little that we are in control of. Walk into Pick n Pay or your grocer of choice, read the labels and weep. At least 95% [my guestimate] of the food we consume has ingredients that we can’t even pronounce, let alone know what they are. What we put into our bodies on a daily basis is not pure.
Then many of us forgo exercise and moments in nature as we have a million and one excuses. And we’re continually bombarded by information overload, excessive consumption and deadlines – 24 hours is never enough – that hamper our pursuit of peace and quiet. That’s really what our souls need. For the pain and trauma to disappear so that we reach our full potential and live out our purpose.
This is a real illness and must be treated with the same vigour as any other health issues.
What I’m trying to say is that there are times when we need help. All of us. Whether it’s sharing with friends and family, speaking to a professional and/or taking medication. If you feel sad, anxious, ‘empty’, negative, irritable, desperate, worthless, tired and without energy for longer than two weeks, you’re most probably depressed. This is a real illness and must be treated with the same vigour as any other health issues.
We are not defined by our weakness, rather we are given strength through it.
And to all my sisters, Happy Women’s Month!