All Articles Tagged "depression"
The topic of drugs for mental illness is quite controversial. Some people think that drugs aren’t needed, and that mental illness can be cured through therapy alone, or prayer, or just trying hard to make it go away. I used to be one of those people. But after beginning a drug regimen for my depression, I became a complete convert.
Imagine being in graduate school with new people, new places and new types of work. I was there in 2001 when I began business school. As someone with a degree in English literature, I entered my MBA program with no small amount of fear. I worried that the quantitative coursework in finance, accounting and statistics would be too hard for me. I wondered if I belonged at the top 5 school where I’d matriculated. My fears were realized when I struggled through my first term with lackluster grades. The overachiever in me was devastated.
I knew the cause of my mediocre GPA: I didn’t have a full grasp of the material I was learning. I could barely comprehend the information in my textbooks. The more I tried to read, the less I could focus. And my attention flagged during class time, where I felt groggy and out of sorts. I tried to cover my confusion with my classmates, showing false understanding and sarcasm. Inside, however, I was crying. To be honest, I did a fair amount of actual crying in my apartment at night. I slept a lot, when I thought I should have been studying, to escape what I thought was sadness.
After weeks of suffering, I told my therapist about how I felt and what I thought were the causes. He asked me if I’d had similar feelings at other times. I confessed that yes, there were times in which I was tearful and prone to sleeping. He suggested that I might be clinically depressed and referred me to a psychiatrist for evaluation and drug therapy. I bristled at first, believing that I didn’t need drugs. But once I thought about how miserable I’d been, I realized that I needed some solution beyond what I’d had at the time.
My first visit to a psychiatrist was full of questions and answers. At that first meeting, I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed Zoloft. On my way to fill the prescription, my feelings about drugs for mental illness resurfaced. I thought they were a crutch that people used when they couldn’t do the hard work of getting better. I believed that I was strong enough to overcome my malady on my own, even though when I was honest with myself I could admit I had been struggling with the same symptoms for years — lethargy, lack of concentration, crying spells, general disinterest in my activities. Against my beliefs, I got the Zoloft and began taking it.
Within a few weeks something wonderful happened. I started feeling better. In truth, I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. It was as though a switch in my brain had been flipped and I’d been restored to my previous level of intelligence and good humor. My grades improved, as did my social life. I became the person I’d always been before depression had taken hold. Suddenly, I became a convert in favor of drugs for mental illness.
Here’s what I want people to understand: mental illness is actually a physiological disorder and as such requires a physiological change in your brain — that means medication of some sort. And when medication is something that can set you to rights and remove your suffering, there’s no good reason not to take it if necessary. Choosing to do so doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart.
Tracey Lloyd lives in Harlem, where she fights her cat for access to the keyboard. You can find more of her experiences living with bipolar disorder on her personal blog, My Polar Opposite.
I consider myself a Christian. I believe in God, I read the Bible, I go to church. My faith plays a role in certain aspects of my disease, but this wasn’t always the case. Earlier in my Christian journey, and before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I had experiences that would lead me to believe that Christianity and mental illness could not be reconciled. That information came not from the Bible, but from how some Christians exhibit their faith.
Some years ago, I was in the midst of a depressive episode but I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I knew that I was tired and teary and my brain was foggy. I’d thought about getting into therapy to talk about my feelings about a recent breakup and accompanying weight gain. Instead, my father convinced me to become more active in our church. This was supposed to deepen my relationship with God and make me feel better.
I took my dad’s advice and took a more active role in the church. When my favorite minister invited me to attend a women’s spiritual retreat one weekend, I agreed because I liked her and believed that it would help my mood. Expecting fellowship and sisterhood, what I experienced instead made me feel even worse.
Most of the women at the retreat were what I call “I’m blessed” Christians. You know, the kind of people who say “I’m blessed” whenever you ask how they are. They might as well answer “I’m Black.” These “I’m blessed” women that I met didn’t leave room for the emotional vagaries of the human condition, and certainly didn’t leave any room for me to talk about what I thought of as my emotional issues. “I’m blessed” is pretty much a non-starter, at least for me, because I never know how to respond. “Good for you” seems dismissive, and the only appropriate response is another declaration of faith. If all I was supposed to do was talk about God and religion whenever anyone spoke to me, I was sure that Christianity and mental illness — or at least emotional issues — had no place being together in this environment.
The women that I met at the retreat were also the kind of people who say, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” I know they meant that their stress is mollified by their faith, or that God’s blessings are with them even in times of emotional tension. But did they feel stress? My whole reason for getting more involved in the church was because I was stressed. But being around a group of women who seemed to agree that anxiety wasn’t possible for them made me feel alone and so wrong. So when my minster packed her Bible into a case — one that everyone else in the room seemed to have but me — and asked me how my day was, all I could muster was a wan “It was a blessing.” What I really wanted to say was, is there any room for my feelings in this religious expression?
Fortunately, I eventually found professional help for my mental illness and a spiritual home in which I feel comfortable talking to my pastor about my condition. Instead of claiming my unlilateral blessings under all situations, I acknowledge the role that God has played in getting me to seek help and in making me smart enough to get the help I need when I need it. Unlike the Christians I met early in my struggle, I connect with God for strength that’s particular to my situation rather than repeating the platitudes that mark some religious experiences. Of course Christianity and mental illness can coexist in the same person, but Christians need to be more mindful of how their expression of faith affects us.
Forget what you’ve heard about the winter blues. The dark, cold and gloomy winter months are not the time of year where people feel most depressed and even suicidal. In fact, studies have shown that it’s during spring that suicide rates increase rapidly. Specifically, in the United States, they start high in January, decrease in February, and then reach a peak in April–the month we’re currently in.
There have been many attempts to try and explain why this is. Increased suicide attempts are blamed on many things. From inflammation due to an uptick in pollen in the air, which releases anxiety-producing chemicals (this finding still isn’t necessarily proven, but cited as a “provocative” finding), to researchers suggesting that the sunshine triggers suicidal thoughts, and a possible prominent reason cited is the increase in social interactions come spring. With better weather means more opportunities to be out, and more opportunities to be stressed out by the folks you come in contact with.
Or, as Slate put it in 2012, “During the winter, many people go into semihibernation: They work less, see fewer people, and are exposed to less frustration and conflict. That all changes in the spring, when increased interaction with others and the stress of work may trigger suicidal thoughts.”
And while those in winter may not feel the same drive to actually fully go through with taking their life, those dealing with heightened depression in the spring have more energy and may feel a higher level of desperation to follow through with such an act.
During a time where everyone would assume that one would be feeling happier thanks to the sunshine and warmer weather (like the “Brand New Day” scene from The Wiz happier), many people actually find themselves going through an emotional, and sometimes, a physical rollercoaster. And some of us may not even realize that we’re at risk.
We often overlook the physical symptoms of depression, which can get so bad that they may turn into suicidal thoughts. According to WebMD, our body can go through some significant negative changes when we’re feeling down, including consistent fatigue, either a lack of sleep or oversleeping, and both a decrease in one’s appetite for food and sex. And one can’t forget an increase in aches and pains. When neurotransmitters in our brain begin to function abnormally because of depression, serotonin levels can be impacted, drastically adjusting our pain threshold and making us more sensitive to and cognitive of it.
And according to FamilyDoctor.org and the Mayo Clinic, suicidal thoughts aren’t always just thinking or talking about a desire to end your life. They can include a morbid view where you’re preoccupied with death. You may go through drastic personality changes. Or maybe you do precarious things and act indifferent to your dangerous choices. You might flip around your routine, find yourself feeling trapped in a certain situation or stage of life that is less than positive, or you might find yourself wanting to spend more and more time alone. We often fail to realize that our mood swings and moves to isolate ourselves are not just an ordinary occurrence, but rather, a sign that we could be at risk of something very serious.
As someone who has dealt with these type of feelings before, I would say that it’s extremely important to acknowledge them and to share them with someone who can help you, rather than holding them in as a secret to avoid shame or embarrassment. People deal with such situations differently (i.e., getting more sleep, avoiding the triggers that can send one into a downward spiral), but seeking therapeutic help is always recommended to help you obtain the support, and sometimes, the medication you need to move forward. Because while we do go through life changes that can throw us for a loop and mess with our emotional state, sometimes our depressive dips can have more to do with biology than we think, and could be adequately handled with the help of treatment.
Whatever the case, don’t go through it alone. Know the symptoms and be in touch with loved ones or hotlines (like the National Suicide Prevention Hotline) that can provide you with the aid and encouragement necessary to keep going.
“I Was Homicidal And Suicidal”: Tina Campbell Contemplated Taking Her Life After Teddy’s Cheating Revelation
Happy birthday to the only man that will ever have my heart. I love you Teddy Campbell with all the love that i have inside of me baby. Im glad God gave you another year cause you just keep getting better and better and better. You’re an amazing man and im blessed to be yours. Your number one fan and chick for life – Wifey
Tina Campbell is an open book these days. And she has decided to be more open about all that she’s gone through in an attempt to help others while also exalting God for what He brought her out of. Recently, she spoke on the deep depression she faced in front of cameras after finding out about Teddy’s cheating. While promoting the new season of Mary Mary, she told TheGrio’s Chris Witherspoon earlier this month, “I was suicidal and homicidal.”
“It wasn’t like, ‘I done lost my man I want to kill myself,'” Campbell said. “I loved my husband, but I was like, ‘I can get another man.’ During that stage I was underconfident, but I was cocky. I was like, ‘Google me, I could have whoever I want!’ But really, ’cause I felt like nothing, that’s where it came from. Total insecurity. It wasn’t about losing my man. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m a family woman, and I don’t even have one.’ My family was just a complete lie, and that’s how I felt.”
She continued, “Now my faith, I can’t do lying. So I’m not going to be a hypocrite and be mad at God and angry and bitter and all this stuff, out there trying to share the Gospel and inspire people. So I didn’t want to do Gospel music anymore. So all I got left is my kids. I’m no good to them because I’m depressed, I’m sad, I’m broken, I’m insecure, I’m overprotecting them. ‘I’m good for nothing. What is the point of me?’ Since I felt like I was pointless, I considered taking my life. I considered taking me, my children. I was just like, ‘I don’t want to leave a legacy of suicide to them, so maybe I should just take all of them.’ Then I was like, ‘Naw, maybe I should take out these people who did me wrong and then take us out, and leave my husband here to figure it out so that he can realize, look what you did.’
I was just at a terrible, terrible place. I was homicidal and suicidal, but I told God, ‘I know I’m crazy and I know I’m all the way thrown off, but I don’t want to be like this. I want to forgive. I want to let this go. I want to know that good people sometimes make bad decisions because they feel like they’re between a rock and a hard place, whatever the case, you want something but you go about it the wrong way.’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to hate the world. I don’t want to be bitter and insecure and angry. If you can help me forgive and help me see people and myself in the way you see them, I promise I’ll tell everybody about it if you get me out of this pit.’ And God really did help me. And I found that help in the Bible. So yes, I was crazy before I was sane. And I did crazy real good. Now I do sane real good.”
And not only is she doing sane real good, Campbell said that her relationship is better than its ever been. So her decision to share her pain with so many was worth it, as it brought her, others, and her relationship, healing.
Check out her interview with TheGrio below and feel free to share how you can relate. Have you ever had thoughts of hurting yourself or others during an especially hard time in your life? How did you move forward?
By Kasey Woods
I’m not in control of my happiness. That is the theory that I accepted for a very long time.
It appeared that whenever things were going too well, for too long, some unknown force would ultimately descend upon me and effortlessly snatch away any feelings of well-being I was experiencing. I attributed this abduction of my happiness to the fact that I had merely exceeded my “happiness quota.” Essentially, the universe just wasn’t going to let me get too happy. I deduced that I had a happiness limit and if I came too close to that limit, or God forbid exceeded it, the universe would be forced to cut me down to size, humble me and remind me who was in charge.
Believe me, I had very good reasons to believe this far-fetched theory. One example of an swift and forceful response to an overabundance of happiness happened in March of 2012. During the first few months of 2012, things had been going very well for me: my career was zooming forward at the speed of light, I was six months pregnant and excited to meet my new bundle of joy, and my personal relationships were flourishing. Things were going really well. But as usual, this feeling of “well-being” would prove to be short-lived.
I remember commenting to a friend that I sensed I was getting too close to my “happiness quota.” “You know, things can’t be too good for too long,” I told her. She scoffed at me and replied that I was just being paranoid, (I mean who really believes that their happiness is rationed out by some mythical energy source that rules the universe? … Me, that’s who.)
Within a week of that ominous conversation, the biggest life-changing incident that has ever happened in my life took place. I accidentally ran over my then two-year-old daughter with the family car and was subsequently run over myself after throwing my six month pregnant body under the vehicle in an effort to save her.
This horrific accident not only put me well below my perceived quota, it left a far greater impact on my life. Happiness seemed to eluded me. Though my daughter made a complete recovery (after days in the ICU and numerous fractures and bruises) and my unborn child was born beautiful and healthy as well, that incident implanted doubt and fear as my new constant companions. My daughter’s life was almost lost due to my negligence and my psyche responded with almost OCD like tendencies. I would check, recheck, and check again to make sure that my children were present and accounted for when in the car, even if I understood that I had taken all the appropriate safety precautions a mere seconds earlier. Anytime I was away from them I was preoccupied with wondering if they were OK. I began to have frequent and brutal panic attacks that came and went as they pleased.
Eventually, with therapy and a great life coach, I was able to come out of that space. Through intense counseling I have learned that I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common reaction to a situation as awful as what I had experienced. That situation also “turned up” my current bipolar disorder symptoms, which at the time were undiagnosed. The effects of trauma on your mental health are well documented and something that today I know a great deal about.
Through it all, the greatest lesson that I learned was that I deserved to be happy; that my happiness doesn’t have a cap. After the hard work and dedication to my mental health that I had to commit to, I finally understood that there’s work necessary sometimes to be happy and content. No, it wasn’t easy pulling myself out of that slump but if I allowed myself to stay in that space I would certainly still be there now. Once I accepted that there was no theoretical force keeping my joy at bay, it was easier to also accept that the only thing keeping me from being happy was me.
Ish Happens!! It’s how you react to these occurrences that makes the difference. I now recognize that the lows that regularly came soon after my highs were in part due to an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and that the chronic sadness that always triumphed over spurts of happiness was in fact depression.
Sometimes life has a way of making us believe that everything is working against us. We believe that we are not worthy of the good things that life has to offer. For years I truly believed that there was a finite limit to my happiness. Today I live by the motto: no one can want something for you more than you want it for yourself. With this in mind I have thrown away the notion of a happiness quota. I want limitless happiness. I want to end the fear that has historically preempted the happy moments in my life, and I now command my journey to be one of unbounded joy and optimism. I accept my role in achieving such a feat and I revel in the notion of grasping happiness and not letting go. I implore you to do the same.
Visit the author’s Facebook Fan Page for more information and resources: Facebook.com/MyManicMemoirs
As much as we say we need to eliminate the stigma of mental health in the Black community, many of us are still nowhere near as comfortable talking about our struggles with depression, thoughts of suicide, and other issues as Imade Nibokun. The North Carolina writer and activist is the creator of the blog, Depressed While Black in which “shares mental health stories from an African-American lens” and she’s also speaking out about her struggle on camera.
In light of Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn M. McCarrel’s suicide, Nibokun spoke out on the relationship between social justice and mental health in this video for mental health non-profit Project UROK, which is dedicated to de-stigmatizing mental illness, combating isolation, and reducing teen suicide. In the video, Nibokun also speaks candidly about her own experiences with depression, the stigma of mental illness in the black community, and how she got help:
“Now I recognize that I am worth mental health treatment, and it took a while to understand that, because growing up, I thought depression was a white person disease… that depression is just not something we do as Black people.”
But depression is in fact something we do as Black people and we need more individuals like Nibokun to come forward and remind us of that. Check out her touching video above.
Someone, maybe a noted psychologist or a perceptive writer, said that depression is anger turned inward. I can definitely feel that when I’m having trouble regulating emotions, that is, keeping my feelings at a level that doesn’t cause me extreme discomfort. Sometimes it’s my own feelings that I have difficulty handling. But at other times, I have to manage the onslaught of others’ feelings and how they affect my moods.
Last week, I had to go to a government office to take care of some business. Picture a big room, many of people from all stations of life plus lots and lots of waiting. Patience is not my strong suit so I hate waiting in any situation. But hours of waiting, even if I have something to occupy me, makes me want to pull out all of my hair. After two hours at said government office, I wanted to scream. Throw my coat on the floor. Flail around on the floor like a child having a tantrum. Of course I did none of those things, choosing instead to squelch my feelings and appear nonplussed on the outside. That’s regulating emotions to me: pretending that I don’t have them, which isn’t a good idea.
Meanwhile, I watched some of my fellow waiters experience a myriad of feelings. Some huffed and puffed and sighed. Others paced the floor and grumbled to themselves. Still others spoke their frustration aloud, cursing and spitting bilious insults at our government captors, or at nobody in particular. Just witnessing someone else’s dissatisfaction made me even more annoyed yet unable — or unwilling — to express it. Which got me feeling down.
Dealing with the anger in myself and in those around me made me draw further inside myself. Instead of channeling my feelings in another direction, like asking an employee how much longer I’d have to wait, I turned my anger inward. I thought, “I’m going to be here all day and it will have been a waste of time” and “It’s my fault that I’m waiting so long, I should have done something different.” Soon my negative thoughts turned from my immediate situation to my life in general and I thought, “I’ll never be able to express my anger and I’ll always just feel bad about it.” My discomfort with regulating emotions took me from bored and annoyed to looking down on myself in a short period of time.
I know that my bipolar depression makes it easy for my thoughts to veer off in a negative direction at any time. But controlling thoughts and regulating emotions at the same time is a difficult task, particularly when bombarded with outside stimuli. I long to be the kind of person I saw bounding around the government room, talking out their anger and annoyance to anyone who would listen and some who didn’t. Unfortunately, those kinds of outbursts bring me towards bipolar mania, an unchecked emotional state where my actions are likely to be thoughtless and irrational.
What I need to be able to do is be emotional enough to handle my internal outbursts and rational enough to handle the outbursts of others. The fact that I haven’t quite gotten there makes me know that I probably need a bit more therapy in my life before I can act like a “normal” person. Nevertheless, I’m thankful that at least now I can recognize that I have an issue.
For many of us, going back to work after a long vacation can be a huge adjustment. Although some people are able swing back into the groove of completing their work tasks, others experience what’s known as post-vacation anxiety.
In Louise Hung’s article for XO Jane, she explains how she suffers severe anxiety whenever her vacations end. “For two weeks, I enjoyed the luxury (or trap, depending how you look at it) of telling myself, “I’ll worry about it later, I’m on vacation.” Then later became now. The moment the door to my parents’ taxi slammed shut, my heart started using my stomach as a trampoline and the Anxiety Troll in my brain shouted, “HEY SUCKER! We’ve got some catching up to do,” Hung revealed.
CBS reports the anxiety that one feels upon returning to work after a vacation is called “re-entry stress.” Physical reactions to this kind of stress usually come in the form of symptoms like backaches, stomachaches or sleep problems. In order to adjust smoothly from vacation to work, here are five tips to help you survive the workload that awaits you.
Prepare To Re-Enter Normal Life
Dr. Peter Wish told CBS people should plan to give themselves time between arriving back to their hometown and the time they are scheduled to be back at work. By doing so, make sure your bills, house cleaning and food shopping are done before your vacation so you can relax and unpack when you arrive home. This helps for an easier transition and you’ll be able to jump back in your normal schedule without added stress.
Regulate Your Sleep Schedule
Many of us tend to stay up later or sleep in when we are on vacation. Although this may feel like a luxury, it doesn’t work well when we are ready to go back to work. On the last leg of your trip, try to regulate your sleep schedule so don’t you experience long periods of jet lag when you come home.
Phone Or Text The Friends Or Family You Speak To Regularly
While on vacation, you may not communicate with friends or family as much. When you return home, call or text them to relive happy moments of your trip or discuss any conflicts you may have faced during it. The U.S. News believes this tip will help you ease back into your day-to-day life.
Only Answer Important Work Emails
Depending on the industry you work in, you may receive an enormous amount of emails that can make you feel overwhelmed. Instead of trying to respond to all of them at once, only answer the important emails that need your response before you go back to work. This helps get the momentum going and allows you accomplish your workload in smaller tasks.
We usually experience high levels of happiness while we are on vacations; however that can surely dip once you return home. In order to maintain feeling good about yourself and your life, USA Today reports a good workout session and the endorphins produced from it will remind you, you can feel good about life no matter your location.
Friendships are like most relationships: they involve a symbiosis, a delicate balance of give and take to make them work. Maintaining equity in a friendship is frequently difficult for healthy people; however, when you have friends with mental illness, the balance can get shifted more drastically than in other relationships.
I have two close friends with mental illness, Nicole and Ken. I actually have more friends with mental illness, but Nicole and Ken are the ones with whom I share the most. With Nicole, I usually share my workaday struggles living with bipolar. She has also experienced depression, so we can talk about our symptoms or our thinking patterns or how sometimes it’s hard to work. When we’re both feeling pretty well, our friendship is like any other. But when one of us is doing better than the other, there is tension, at least from me.
Friendship is about sharing and picking each other up when you’re down. It’s also about celebrating times when you’re up. When you have friends with mental illness, sometimes you don’t get to share your wins because you have to be there for someone’s losses. When I’m feeling well, I feel like I don’t want to hear about anyone’s bad times. I feel a little selfish for that, but when you’ve had an excruciating time maintaining a good mood, and that mood is tenuous at best, you feel like you need to do everything you can to protect yourself. Even if that means being less than available for a friend.
With Nicole, and I suppose with any friends with mental illness, its sometimes harder to connect with her down times when I’m not in the same position. Healthy me is so drastically different from depressed me — I act differently, I think differently, I dress differently, I do different activities — that it’s almost like I’m two distinct people. The two people barely know each other and I’d like to keep it that way. So I try to help Nicole when she’s depressed, suggest some solutions to her problems and bide my time until we can relate like “normal” people. By the way, I’m pretty sure she has similar feelings.
Ken and I have a different friendship. We have different mental illnesses so we can’t commiserate about how we feel, we can only talk to each other. When we are both well, we talk about our diseases, our prognoses and share details about our treatment. Mental illness isn’t the basis of our friendship, so we do talk about other things. That is, when we want to talk.
When I’m really depressed, I don’t talk to anyone. And when Ken is really anxious, he isolates as well. Our respective confinements may alleviate the type of situation that I have with Nicole, but they don’t exactly leave a lot of time for the friendship, which also annoys me. When I’m feeling well, I enjoy life so much but I’m unable to share that with a friend who isn’t responsive. Sometimes I am so disconnected from my depressed self, I wonder what I’d done to drive my friend away instead of understanding that he might be having a hard time. As with Nicole, I have a whole set of guilty feelings stemming from my disconnection with my depression.
All relationships require maintenance and effort from both parties in order to be sustained. Frustrations occur when one party doesn’t do what’s necessary for the relationship to continue satisfactorily. When you have friends with mental illness, or you have a mental illness, sometimes it is impossible to prioritize the friendship over your own issues. During those times, it’s best to maintain your health and keep communication open with your friends.
We all get anxious sometimes. It could be a side-effect of getting ready for the first date with Mr. Maybe The One. Sometimes anxiety hangs around when you’re preparing for the simplest of things. If your nerves are getting on your nerves, it pays to be careful about what you eat.
If you’re prone to anxiety, certain foods can make your symptoms worse. If you think one of these foods could be part of the problem, try cutting them out of your diet for a couple of weeks. Skipping out on your morning cup of Joe could leave you feeling a lot more secure the next time you have to lead an important morning meeting.
But if the jitters are more than an occasional occurrence, it could be time to see a doctor. Your personal physician could point you to an easy fix — or discover an underlying medical problem that could have serious consequences later on. But it never hurts to tweak your diet first.