Posted in Inspiration, mental illness, Midlife Journey

Depression’s Gift

According to the NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health) 23.8 million adults in the United States suffer from depression.  This figure does not include anxiety disorders in which depression is also a component (GAD, PTSD, Agoraphobia, etc.).  As a woman who has struggled with depression, I understand the frustration in finding accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.  I also understand the day-to-day challenges of depression and how it can interfere with our relationships, our happiness and our desire for personal fulfillment.  Learning to accept depression and how to manage its symptoms has played an important role in my midlife journey and one of the topics explored in my most recent book, Returning – a woman’s midlife journey to herself.    In anticipation of my upcoming book release celebration, I share with you this poem (not in the book) that expresses one of the ways in which I have made peace with my struggle with depression.

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Depression’s Gift

Copyright 2013 

Depression staring back at me

Through inky, fluid, darkness

Imprisoned between antique silver frame,

Pressing toward me through the darkness,

Depression’s feature’s in relief against ebony curtain.

***

I reach toward the guilded/guilted frame,

Steadying myself beneath her glare

Ashamed to let others see the darker side of me…

Imprisoned in my home…

Paralyzed by despair…

Thoughts obscured by a cloak of darkness…

I Inquire of the part of myself I keep hidden from the world,

“What is it you want from me?”

***

Tired of hiding from myself.

Tired of shielding the truth.

I Boldly step into depression

Piercing through the darkness of the blackened mirror.

Depression brushing over and through me like a heavy mist

Grasping and clinging like a spider’s web

Reaching the extent of its grasp as I continue walking

Depression snapping back against the mirror that now stands behind.

***

Suddenly bathed in light

I behold the treasure that lays hidden within.

Depression’s gift to me.

Understanding that it is because of depression and its strange bedfellows of obsession, anxiety, panic and worry that I have learned

Compassion.

***

Reaching for my open heart and outstretched hands

I Gather toward me the precious treasure depression has left for me

which is now my gift to the world,

We make for our return,

Thanking depression along the way.

The birth of the Soul includes finding our way through all of the pieces of ourselves we keep hidden from the world, and finding our way through the inner obstacles, fears and insecurities that keep us from the life of purpose, fulfillment and peace that God intended.  As Midwife to your Soul, I offer programs and services to assist you in moving through these inner obstacles.  To schedule a one-on-one session or workshop, contact me at (920) 230-1313  or lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

Posted in mental illness

Mental Health Week(s)…..Let’s Get Started!

Welcome to Mental Health Week(s) at Authentic Freedom Ministries and Your Spiritual Truth.  During the coming days, we will have an opportunity to read contributions by those who have suffered with mental illness, those who have survived and from practitioners who help to provide support for those experiencing mental illness.   The goal of these coming days is first and foremost to support and secondly, to educate and inform.  A BIG thank you for those who have been willing to come forward with their own stories and for those in the helping fields who have provided information and support.  Let’s get started, shall we?

What is Mental Illness?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); mental illness is:   a medical condition that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental Illness covers a broad spectrum of diagnoses including:

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that 25 percent of adults and 20% of children and adolescents are experiencing mental illness of some kind.  Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. What is important to know is that mental illnesses are treatable and that most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.  According to NAMI, an effective treatment plan can include:  medication, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and the use of other community services.  Diet, exercise, adequate sleep, intimate friendships and meaningful paid or volunteer activities can also contribute to the overall success of any recovery plan.

Obstacles to Diagnosis and Recovery

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to effective diagnosis and treatement is the negative stigma associated with mental illness.  It is important for us to know and to share with others that mental illnesses are serious medical conditions. Contrary to some schools of thought, mental illness cannot be overcome through “will power” and is not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.  Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, gender, race, religion, income level or  intelligence.  Stigma erodes our ability to recognize that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions and often halts our search for diagnosis and treatment.  This is a tragedy because the best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective.  NAMI estimates that between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life with a combination of prescription medications and psychosocial treatments and a variety of other supports.

Symptoms of Possible Mental Illness

The symptoms of possible mental illness vary on the type and severity of the condition.  WebMD cites the following as general symptoms that may suggest a mental illness is present:

In adults

  • Confused thinking
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
  • Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Many unexplained physical problems
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol

In older children and pre-teens

  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Changes in school performance, falling grades
  • Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical problems
  • Defying authority, skipping school, stealing, or damaging property
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

In younger children

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Where to Go for Support

If you believe that you or someone you care about may be experiencing symptoms of a possible mental illness, early identification and treatment is of vital importance.  Early access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective can accelerate recovery and reduce the potential of further harm related to the course of untreated illness.  For treatment and support, the NAMI website is a great place to start.  Or, talk to your doctor, ask for a referral from friends or relatives (chances are, they are either suffering themselves or know someone who is), talk to your Pastor, seek the help of a professional Counselor.  Whatever you do, get help and seek out support. Current treatments are effective, recovery is possible (especially in cases where the symptoms are largely situational) and you deserve to experience your best life possible.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com