Bell Lets Talk.
It's meant to bring a voice to the voiceless.
The diagnosis of millions. Everyone is talking about Depression and Anxiety. There's been an uptick of child diagnosis, with a whopping 25% of children between ages 13 and 18 in the USA being diagnosed.
So... tell me why people just say to "go outside" or "workout" when diagnosed with "the blues"?
To start, here's a picture of my bernedoodle puppy, Kane, at 6 weeks old.
Also, can't imagine why we STILL (after a year) have a problem with her chewing (that's notable sarcasm).
So, back to the not as fun stuff.
I promise I'll always interrupt the tough conversations with cute pictures. Because I'm not an asshole, and I think "Adding Joy" is the best of all coping mechanisms. Also, Kane is training to be my PTSD Service Dog, so I will be updating this blog for her milestones.
That means keep coming back for cute af dog pics.
So, everyone (a quarter of teenagers) have an anxiety disorder. Great. So, what does that mean? There's plenty of theories on why there's such a rise in mental health diagnosis, from Facebook being the cause, to the use of hormones in meat, to pill pushers, and aliens.
This means there's no clear answer. If you have a PEER REVIEWED STUDY for me to take a look at, please email. The University of Facebook does NOT count for this. The problem is that we, most likely, will never find the "reason" for the uptick of diagnosis. All we can do is deal with a generation of anxiety and depression riddled young adults.
The causation isn't the immediate issue.
Sure, it's an issue. But someone smarter then both of us is going to figure it out.
The immediate issue is the stigma mixed with the University of Facebook's treatments. When people get diagnosed (with anything), google is the first stop. Which is a terrible idea for coming up with different ways to feel better if you have depression.
Now we take a break for some statements. They should be obvious, but the more I talk about mental health the more I realize they aren't.... because I have been told all these things by "professionals", by speakers on mental health, and by just talking to people about my diagnosed issues. Now, there's plenty of coping strategies on this list. I'm not saying that exercises is not a viable option to empty a bit of your cup so it doesn't overflow.
I'm just saying that thinking it's going to solve a depression problem is misguided.
Depression does NOT mean you're lazy (it's a chemical imbalance in your brain)
Going outside does NOT fix your depression (the joke of "great, now I just want to kill myself outside" is actually pretty valid)
Working out can produce some pretty unbelievable results for body positivity and for your dopamine and serotonin in the brain, that does not mean that going for a run every morning will "cure" your depression
An anxiety disorder is different from simply being a worrier
Anxiety sucks, and the chest pain and physiological responses are very much REAL and VALID
Meditating is like exercise, it's a great way to help separate yourself and to calm an overactive sympathetic nervous system - It's also hard as fuck to do and do well when you're in a full blown panic attack
Meds are great. You are NOT A FAILURE for TAKING MEDS TO FIX THE CHEMICAL IMBALANCE IN YOUR BRAIN
I'm repeating 7, because it's so important. And I'm going to yell it again, just so you listen. TAKING YOUR MEDS ISN'T A FAILURE. IT'S TAKING A MEDICATION TO HELP WITH YOUR BRAIN.
THERAPY DOESN'T MAKE YOU WEAK. GOING TO THERAPY TO WORK ON THE UNDERLYING ISSUES IS STRONG. (That's right, I'm still yelling. To quote my wife, "Do you like it when my voice sounds like this? Because I don't like it.")
There's probably more. I'll link them in future articles.
So, what does that mean?
This is now a personal opinion time. It won't be peer reviewed.
I think we have a disconnect between our generation and our parents. Mental health wasn't a hot topic issue before, and there's a reason that no one talked about it. The stigma still exists, and we definitely are slugging through the previous versions of mental health talk.
Mental health is also like assholes... everyone has their own personal journey with them (see what I did there?)
Sure YOU might be a worrier and weren't diagnosed with anxiety by a doctor, but that doesn't mean that no one should be diagnosed. It also doesn't mean that someone with the same symptoms shouldn't be diagnosed.
There's common reactions to stress out there. The problem with anxiety and depression is that they are common reactions to stress... except they trigger at nothing.
Like, I hate Wal Mart. But, my body seems to think that Wal Mart = Being Chased By A Lion. Seriously. My vision becomes "clear", I hear my pulse thundering through my brain, I want to run, my hands are clammy, and I can have a panic attack.
I'm doing therapy.
This is to teach my body that it's a f'ing idiot. That Wal Mart is not life threatening. That's the difference between simply not liking to go shopping and an anxiety disorder.
So yeah, people without an anxiety and depression diagnosis has felt all those above mentioned symptoms at one point or another.
Like when someone cuts you off (life threat).
Or when you're exercising.
Or when you're really mad.
Or when your kid goes running away from you in the parking lot.
These are useful reactions for fighting or running from a lion.
That's why I think it's not really taken seriously sometimes. Sure, "breathing deeply" and going for a run can cure a normal sympathetic nervous system response. So can going outside clear up an occasional feeling of being down in the dumps. But honestly, that's like telling people just to take a tums for their stomach cancer. Sure, Tums makes your occasional heartburn go away, and we've all had some "tum tum" pain at one time or another. We can all agree that it sucks, but you know as well as I do that's far cry from the pain cancer patients feel.
Why can't we treat mental health the same way?
Probably because we can't see it.
But we can see suicide.
We can see panic attacks.
We can see when someone self harms.
We can see someone's disaster house because they can't summon the energy to clean it.
We can see when someone drinks or uses drugs to "wake up" from the numbness or to calm that overactive anxiety response.
We all can see it.
Now's the time to see it with empathy instead of judgement. See it with "wow I'm sorry for what you're going through" instead of "I've dealt with so much worse in my life and I'm fine".
Now's the time to see.
Because if you really look... you can see depression and anxiety. You can see people. All you have to do is look.