Content provided by Debbie Menold Marini, The Awareness Impact ~
There is a story of a woman who started running at 67. After losing both of her sons she suffered from depression…. she said running made her feel like she was “climbing out of a hole”.
That’s exactly what depression feels like.
My family has known mental illness since I was a child. My father’s brother suffered as well as my mother’s sister. I remember when all the cousins would get together we would joke about who the one in our generation would be. Where the next shoe would drop. We joked about it…. but on the inside I think we were all “evaluating” our behavior and feelings probably a little bit more than most. No one wanted to be that shoe. “Hmmm, is this normal?” was my daily mantra.
As an adult, an educated adult, my new mantra today is “what is this feeling and why do I have it?”
See…Normal never existed. Normal means we all fit into the same box. Normal means we all need to think, act and feel the same way. Normal means not being different. Human beings are not normal. Human beings are MADE TO BE DIFFERENT! We are made to form our own thoughts and feel our own feelings.
After fighting my entire life to blend (I was/am a bit of a free spirit in a lot of ways and DEFINITELY an emotional empath—-just ask Marc xo) I finally realized the most important lessons. I hope you don’t mind but I’ll pass them on to you. Most of you know our journey as a family. Most of you know the struggles we’ve had. What most of you don’t know is ….despite so many people saying i should write a book…. my ending hasn’t happened yet. The thing about depression and mental illness is it doesn’t go away. My uncles schizophrenia never went away. My aunts bipolar disorder never went away. The feeling of loss after our second fire never goes away. The sadness one has associated with losing a loved one never goes away. Most of all losing a loved one to Suicide as many of my friends have ….and the emptiness, lack of closure and unseen clarity that comes with that… never ever goes away.
Here are my lessons I’ve learned. Here is the thought process I was so fortunate to have God place in my heart.
LESSON ONE: When you play a sport and get injured …. you look for the why. The how. How did this happen. Why did I injure myself this way and how can I change this to make sure it doesn’t happen again? There are MRI’s, X-rays, muscle tests and physical therapy you can go through to get better.
Feelings are the same way. Like a physical injury it’s not enough to just “know that it’s there”. To know you’ve broken your arm but not do anything more means it won’t heal correctly. It’s the same with a mental challenge. To “know” you feel sad or manic or anxious or numb is the first step. But then you need to take it further.
Understanding why you feel the way you do is LESSON NUMBER ONE. ASKING WHY!
Dani Fox is an amazing woman i met while living in Florida. She taught me a little trick to get to the root of your feelings and Dani I hope you don’t mind if i share! She’s also available for phone appointments and if you’re in Florida and need a tune up she’s amazing!!
Here is the trick. When you’re feeling ‘off’ …… Ask yourself first:
WHAT are you feeling? If the answer is sad ask
*I’m sad because there have been changes happening. Then….
*I’m sad because changes are happening WHY? Then…
*I’m sad because changes are happening and I don’t know what will come next. Then….
*I’m sad because changes are happening, I won’t know what comes next WHY?
Get it? Like peeling back the layers of feelings until you get to the exact reason.
Understanding why you feel the way you do stops the confusion!! Confusion leads to despair and despair leads to a lack of insight that there is hope. It’s a vicious cycle. By simply asking WHY enough times we can get to the root of the feeling! There are people who can help you to get there!!! Call, text or email me for info!! So the lesson is dig deep and understand.
LESSON Two: You can create new thoughts.
I know, I know… we hear this all of the time. Here’s what we don’t hear….Someone suffering from a mental challenge doesn’t want to hear this. It makes them feel even more helpless because they can’t seem to get there! They may not have enough energy to change their thoughts. They can’t do it alone.
There’s a story I share in my Mental Health First Aid training. Picture two closed doors ahead of you. One on the left and one on the right. The door on the left is black and behind it total darkness and signifies feeling sad. The door on the right is yellow and a beautiful brilliant glow of light beams stream out from the sides and signifies happiness. You’re asked to choose a door to walk through.
A person in good mental health when feeling down would want to feel better and would choose the light. To a person suffering a mental challenge like depression… the door to the right signifies the fact you need to have faith in the unknown. The door to the left is known. They know how it feels to not leave the house, to not participate in activities they used to love, to want to be alone, to be sad. They don’t WANT to feel this way but the door to the right is just too much work. It means talking yourself into feeling better. To do this alone can sometimes be exhausting! Changing your thoughts is exhausting!! SO… WHY WOULDN’T YOU ASK SOMEONE TO HELP YOU OPEN THAT DOOR??!!
LESSON NUMBER TWO is that Mary Baggs Rower came into my life after the fire. I remember the day she told me she thought I had depression. Oh my goodness the rage I felt!!! I was so indignant!!!! DONT PUT A LABEL ON ME!!! But it’s not a label. It’s a lifeline. It’s a doctor saying your arm is broken. It’s a friend saying “I’ve noticed you haven’t been to the beach this summer” or a fellow student saying “I haven’t seen you at lunch what’s up?” Saying you have depression is the opposite of admitting you’re weak. It’s the first step of having strength to open that door to the right. Happiness is always possible! That is why I’m so passionate about Youth Mental Health First Aid. WE CAN IMPROVE ON OUR OWN BUT… IF THOSE AROUND US KNOW THE QUESTIONS TO ASK, IT REMOVES THE NECESSITY TO DO IT ALONE and replaces the feeling of being alone. It takes a community of people to care. There is help. There are ways that we can help. There is a path to mental health if we are AWARE OF EACH OTHER.
In memory of Kate Spade, Anthony Boudin, the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all of those lost to mental health. To Uncle Walt and Aunt Joan…Understanding and being aware is my mission.