How Do I Show Self Care?

As a child, “depressed” was a word that didn’t have much value to me. From what I remember, I wasn’t allowed to go into my mother’s bedroom while she was in there alone because dad said she was “depressed”. My aunt went on “vacation” for three weeks because she was “depressed”. Grandma was allowed tosay vicious things to the ones she loved because she was “depressed”. 

Depression is an illness that runs through both sides of my family tree, and I was always told by my father that I would most likely experience it too once I had children as well. However, at the young age of fifteen, I was undoubtedly diagnosed with this mental illness. 

My father was very taken back when the doctor told him. Although he expected the outcome, but I could tell it was still hard for him to digest the fact that I was not enjoying life the way that I should be. He had dealt with my mother’s severe depression for the last twenty years, so he taught me how to take care of myself during this next stage of my life.

One thing to know while taking antidepressants is that you need to take them extremely regularly. Missing just one dose can throw off your entire body, and you start back at square one. When I miss a dose, which happens (at most) once a year, it takes me roughly three weeks to get back to normal. I keep my medications on top of my dresser, in plain view, next to a glass of water, where I know I’ll see them as soon as I wake up. I know that without my medication, I am not the person I want to be. I am emotional, angry, irrational, and just plain mean. It may have taken me two years to find the one that was right for me, but I’m telling you: it is worth it! Duloxetine allows me to live a happy, healthy, functional life no matter what illnesses try to drag me down.

One thing I had to learn how to manage was dealing with questions with other people. Like at sleepovers in high school, why I needed to bring a cup of water to the bathroom, or why I my bag kept making such weird noises. Honestly, I regret not being upfront with my friends about these things, because I know it would’ve made my life so much easier. I shouldn’t have had to keep secrets or have an anxiety attack just to go a friend’s house overnight! It’s easier now that I’m in college to be more transparent with my friends, but part of me feels guilty for not being honest earlier. Not only would I have saved myself the hassle of hiding my medications, but I would’ve made a leap innormalizing mental illness. Nonetheless, I am happy to say that as a nineteen-year-old, another act of self-care that I participate in is being honest about my struggles, because more times than none I end of helping others.

I cannot tell you how many people I have left speechless after I told them about my own mental illness. The usual response is, “But you’re always so happy!”, which leaves meshaking my head. Instead of becoming frustrated or angry, my form of self-care is using this as a chance to educate people. Many people I have crossed paths with seem to relate taking medication with being “psycho” or “crazy”, which is extremely untrue. I am a person experiences depression, but if I were asked to describe myself, that surely wouldn’t be the first thing on my list, because I know I am so much more than that.

If those of us in the mental illness community truly want to care for ourselves, and each other, we need to do more than face masks and ice cream (although those items can be very veryimportant as well).

Let’s remind each other to take our medication every day, be honest with those that love us, and advocate for our community. While this may seem like a very eccentric form of self-care, I do these things because I know I will make my future a little bit brighter, and hopefully yours as well.

Stay bright,