Because May is Mental Health Month and it's a subject that I really feel personal about, I wanted to launch Terrier Blog by sharing some book recommendations & my personal story of Mental Illness.
Anatole qui ne séchait jamais / Riley Can't Stop Crying - Stéphanie Boulay
The Color Thief: A Family Story of Depression - Andrew Fusek Peters, Polly Peters & Karin Littlewood
For Everyone else:
J'ai mal et pourtant ça ne se voit pas - Lucile de Pesloüan (so far in french only)
Black Rainbow: How Words Healed Me, My Journey Through Depression - Rachel Kelly
Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig
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From the Canadian Mental Health Association:
Clinical depression, sometimes called major depression, is a complex mood disorder caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, personality, stress and brain chemistry.
The main symptom of depression is a sad, despairing mood that is present most days and lasts most of the day, lasts for more than two weeks and impairs the person’s performance at work, at school or in social relationships.
Other symptoms of depression include:
- changes in appetite and weight
- sleep problems
- loss of interest in work, hobbies, people or sex
- withdrawal from family members and friends
- feeling useless, hopeless, excessively guilty, pessimistic or having low self-esteem
- agitation or feeling slowed down
- trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- crying easily, or feeling like crying but being not able to
- thoughts of suicide (which should always be taken seriously)
- a loss of touch with reality, hearing voices (hallucinations) or having strange ideas (delusions).
While it can suddenly go into remission, depression is not something that people can “get over” by their own effort.
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It all really started in back in 2017, when I was 23 years old.
For me, it didn't start because of childhood trauma, loss or any major life events happening. Actually, everything was going well enough, at least from the surface.
But somehow below, a very dark cloud was growing and taking more space everyday.
By the end of 2017, I was desperately looking for the reason of my sadness/pain, pushing myself to question every domain in my life. Work, school and even my relationship.
When I went through everything and realized that none of them was the cause of it, I tried to convince myself that it was going to pass. (Spoiler Alert: it wasn't)
In October 2018, I did my first ever travel alone and I visited Scotland for ten days by myself. The only thing I was sure of, at the time, was that I was craving Nature, green and mountains (and yes, the idea of the country came from Outlander. But I swear, I wasn't obsessed... yet.)
Even if there was some challenging moments during that trip, I was finally feeling good for the first time in many months. The dark cloud seemed to be getting smaller, finally.
Unfortunately when I came back from my Scottish trip, and within a few days, the cloud grew darker and bigger again. So far my symptom were only a sad, desparing mood and thoughts of suicide mostly, but now I had trouble remembering and concentrating as well.
Honestly, not remembering things scared me the most because of how unusual it was for me. That's when I realized how serious it was getting, and that it wasn't going to simply go away by itself.
That's when I took the decision of asking for help and started consultations with a psychologist. I also saw a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with clinical depression, also called major depression.
Shortly after starting sessions, I enrolled in a Behavioral Activation Therapy program and started taking medication (antidepressants) as well. With the recommendation from my doctor, I also had a whole month off work.
They say the hardest part is to start and it's true, because once I knew I was doing what was needed to be done in order to get healthier, I was feeling relieved and reassured.
After a couple weeks, I finally felt like I could be happy again and that it was going to get better, eventually.
For me, what I found the hardest, when in state of depression, was the feeling that it's going to last forever. That I'll never be happy or feel good again. But, trust me: It. Is. Not. True.
After a year, when I was finally feeling better and ready, I stopped taking medication.
Going through major depression, I realized that I needed to be extra careful and pay attention to my mental health even more, in order not to go through that again. And, even so, I know that there's still chances that I can relapse someday, and it's okay. Because now I know that it doesn't last and that I can get through it.
I'm lucky to say that through my healing process I developed some technics and tricks to monitor my mental state and be aware of the signals when I'm not feeling well.
Here are some things I do now:
- Keep track of each day I'm feeling "off"/sad/"down" by writting it down (that way, I can go back and check if it's being more frequent or not)
- Work a healthy amounth & take real full days off
- Do activities that I love and makes me feel good (like re-reading my favorite book, watching my favorite movie, coloring, listening to podcast that makes me smile, listening to music etc.)
Also, because I studied medicinal plants for a while, I now take 5-HTP as a supplement for mood balance, and drink regularly herbal tea like lemon balm, which is a natural antidepressant. (DISCLAIMER: I'm NOT a health professional or a doctor, I'm only sharing my experience here. Please consult with a health professional before taking 5-HTP. & Always do your own research.)
If you read up until there, thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed this post.
Lots of love,