Since this is mental health awareness month. I figured I should share a story, I have not always been aware of my own mental health.
For those of you who are new here, I have anxiety, depression, and ADD/ADHD. Those of you who know me also know that was always blatantly obvious, to everyone but me.
I didn’t know having worst case scenario thoughts weren’t normal. I didn’t know being sad with no real cause wasn’t something people just did. I talk about my journey to get help in these two posts, but today I thought I’d share my ‘Ah Ha!’ moment with you. The moment I realized something was wrong with how my brain put thoughts together and why I was always so stressed.
It was after I’d been going to the psychologist for a couple weeks. As one of my exercises, the doctor told me to try and notice when I was having doom thoughts and making up worst case scenarios. Then I was supposed to write down the thoughts, whether they made sense, and what might be another less drastic thought that could be closer to what was really happening. I didn’t think my thoughts were that big a deal, but I was wrong.
One night, Pat stopped at his mom’s house on the way home from work, but he was there a lot longer than I thought he would be. So I called his cell. No answer. Then his mom’s house. No answer.
A normal person would think: oh they are busy talking or maybe they are outside and didn’t hear the phone ring.
My first thought? There was a gas leak and they are all dead.
My next thought (and I’m guessing your next thought) was: What? That’s crazy! Why would I think that?
That’s when I realized that every time there was a problem and I was stressed my mind came up with the worst case scenario first. And every time it did, I agreed with it right away, without giving any of the other thoughts a chance to even appear.
The most eye opening thing about the phantom gas leak thoughts were not that I was having them, but if I hadn’t been paying attention the way I was, I would have worried about it being true till Pat eventually came home. AND even though I did notice that it was a tad on the crazy side, the thought didn’t leave my brain or lose all its credence. Something was definitely not right and I needed to get it fixed.
That’s when the doctor and I decided to try medication. And it worked! Which proved two things: a) It was not my fault I was anxious, it was my brain being chemically unbalanced. b) Those doom thoughts were usually so far off base, after I was on meds, my mind wouldn’t even consider them.
Two days ago I got my meds adjusted again and I am feeling great. It was a long road to get to this point, but I made it.
If you are having problems with anxiety, depression, or anything else please consider getting help. Sometimes counseling is enough. Sometimes you need meds. There is nothing shameful in getting help. And you have nothing to gain but peace of mind.
Trust me I know.
Title image by GordanaPhoto.