Overcoming Depression: A Mental Health Self-Help Journey

I share my story of overcoming depression by way of mental health self help, to inspire and not in sorrow of the things I’ve been through. It’s hard to share the good, and how to overcome diversity, without delving into the pain and how I got there.

I didn’t realize it would be so therapeutic [mental health self-help] but it has been and I’m grateful. In the darkest moments of my life; I’ve never felt more blessed or peaceful until I started opening my mouth, my heart and my mind.

I don’t much like the expression “if I can do it, you can too.” Mainly because [I feel] something about it got lost with the over saturation of its use. But I feel compelled to say it to you now because honestly -  I can’t think of anything else more appropriate or closer to the truth; and healing from depression is NOT easy.

I’m not sorry for myself at all. I am proud of the person I’ve become because of it. Especially if my story and overcoming my mental illness helps you heal from yours; and that’s the honest to God’s truth.

I have taken my lemons and made lemonade from them. My lemons required a factory, heavy machinery, a union and YEARS of production to produce my first 6-ounce cup. But this was the hand I was dealt and am now using it for the better good.

And finally, I share ‘most’ of my story; not all. Out of respect for everyone who is near, dear and close to me but especially the deep, unconditional love for my two children that I’ve chosen to omit some things for now.

All of us need boundaries no matter the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘when,’ or ‘where’ and for now these are mine. Boundaries are a healthy and respectful way of building solid foundations because solid foundations are the only foundation that wonderful, prosperous and great things are built upon. Including the friendships and support desperately needed when dealing with and overcoming depression, anxiety, PTSD...or any mental illness for that matter.

At the end of the day and no matter what - what I want for you is what I want for myself – a healthy mind, body and soul. Joy, peace, calm. Unfortunately, sometimes we must fight hard for those things…it’s kind of like winning a war.

“Battles” will always precede war. And a war “won” will have included “battles lost,” it’s just how it works, it’s just life. However, it’s how you strategize and the lessons learned from the battles. All of them, but none more than the one’s lost…that will determine how well you do - claim your victory - win your war!

But gosh dang…it can be exhausting…

I hadn’t hit my 38th birthday and I’d already…

Contracted an antibiotic resistant infection that couldn’t be resolved without removing a part of one of my lungs. As a result of; I’ve chronic respiratory infections/distress, and a fragile immune system. And in these past 14 years, I’ve been in and out of the hospital too many times to count. Cataracts in both eyes, uveitis [an an eye disease,] numerous cervical spine disorders and a peptic ulcer.

Whew, it won't be long and I’m going to have to add “carpel tunnel”.J In just another short, several years, I’d...

Developed IBS and Chron’s Disease, lost 40/60 percent of my hearing, was diagnosed with Dystonia/Essential Tremors. I became anorexic due to the unrelenting stress then subsequently, have been declared "obese" because of the anorexia wreaking havoc on my metabolism. I’ve lost all my teeth due to the anorexia. And in just this past year; had a mini stroke also known as a TIA or [Transient Ischemic Attack.]

Holy crap! I couldn’t catch a stinkin’ break!

Now - I’m a [young, mind you] middle-aged woman, who wears hearing aids and dentures. My self-esteem is something I must work on daily. It’s really, really hard.

These things are incredibly embarrassing for me to admit. Let alone, lay out in front of you; literally the world…wide web. But whenever the shame engulfs me; I take a step back and reassess the very reason I started using my voice in the first place.

And it’s really not that complicated:

  • To heal within myself
  • To give you a safe place, confirm you’re not alone & insist for you if I must and I don't mind…you’re going to be okay too

Bear with me, it’s not all doom and gloom. At least, not anymore. That’s the point of YourAdvoKit, the words I scribe and how I got here today. There was a time I dwelled, I couldn’t push past the thoughts that consumed me and kept me in this dark pit.

It’s not that I was feeling sorry for myself. I don’t think “sorry” would define my state of mind. It was more like “pissed,” or perhaps an even better way to put it…”really f!@#ing angry.” But sorry? Nah, not really.

When you dwell, repeatedly go over the events, or words said, that have hurt you…it changes the chemistry inside your brain; it’s a subject too complex to explain the science behind it here. But when you’re depressed or anxious, and stay in this kind of mind set, you’re literally creating within your brain, a chemical imbalance. [BTW, you do have the power to change this.]

I was doing that very thing! That is, until I got into therapy and began learning the tools needed to stop my detrimental behaviors, dead in their tracks [better them than the people in my head I wanted to.] One tool in particular, takes mere minutes and just as quick results.

Because of these emotional and physical obstacles…

…every other area of my life had [as in the past] become negatively impacted too; including my relationship with my children. Whenever I didn’t feel good enough to interact with them, or take them places, I’d feel incredible guilt. When I was cranky and without patience from the chronic pain or sickness, I’d feel incredibly guilty.

Guilt is a lot like your shadow. You can’t escape it no matter how hard you try. But if it’s eating at the tips of your toes, clear through your soul, you must change your mind set about it.

For me, and whenever I catch myself thinking of the “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve;” I quickly remind myself…I can’t change the past, but I know I can work on doing better right now and in the future.

Besides…guilt is not necessarily the villain as mostly perceived…

Depression Self Help

One thing is for certain: Overcoming Depression...

When you don’t feel well physically, makes most everything else REALLY hard. And my hurdles were monstrous; bankruptcy, living in a foreclosed home, too many suicides; [3 Uncle’s alone.] Attempted suicides, drug abuse, extreme verbal and physical abuse, etc

These things are so hard. They take great strength to pull through and land on the other side, and on your feet for that matter. You need a really good support system. If you’ve a toxic environment it’s near impossible.

My family is phenomenal. The most giving, rock solid, supportive, honest, loving, devoted human beings this planet has ever been blessed. I love them so much.

But I also had “in-laws” so by default I had another ‘family.’ I can’t say I’ve ever met people quite like them. So quick to judge; so mean and hateful. I’ve truly never seen anything like it. And quite frankly, never care to again. They’re a great example of “your thoughts are not facts.” And would put Stephen King to shame.

My nature is of fierce loyalty. So their "misunderstood" and "misconstrued" fictitious novel they’d mentally penned of me - of the person I was not; it stung. I felt betrayed, but mostly foolish for not keeping my guard up.

I realize now, they too have had great hardships and heartbreaking tragedies. And both have their own deep seeded mental instabilities because of it. I pray they get the help they desperately need, and someday find the peace they deserve.

Starting Over…

Listen, before I delved into mental health self-help I was a suicidal mess. And I’m not joking. No prescription drug helped ease my pain or stabilize my emotional state, but instead made it even worse. Mental health self-help was my final “hail Mary.” If it didn’t help…I was done.

I just couldn’t do it anymore. I took myself off all my medications and replaced them with more natural remedies including SAM-e, Passionflower and St. Johns Wart.

Guess what?  I began overcoming my depression and anxiety. Also, I'm no longer in a toxic environment. Most importantly…”I let go and let God.” No wound is too big for His warm hands to embrace and His heart to forgive or heal. I won’t badger anyone about religion; that’s your personal preference as it is mine. But with Him, there is hope…and without hope…there’s very little left to hold on or look forward to.

If you’re in a state of poor mental health, do whatever you can to put forth the effort to get better by downloading and using as many of the methods and tools I have available. Enlist the help of a therapist too. My ‘perfect fit therapist’ was one who is zen and practices mindfulness. But if that’s not “your thing” make sure the therapist you choose fits you like a glove.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read my story. And may your journey be filled with peace, calm and an UNcomplicated, OVERabundance of happiness. ~ Susan