Tweetchat PlayBack - #Depression 101

5:29:00 PM

Power of the tweetchats, got this text after one of the sessions, people going for help
Good evening beautiful people,

Today is meant to be tweetchat Tuesday but we will have it tomorrow instead. In our last #mymindmyfunk tweetchat, we discussed depression (apologies I had to prepare for my Washington DC trip and didn’t have time to put the notes up, so here they are). 

Special S/O to everyone who uses those chats as a source of information and inspiration to seek help. If there are any topics you would like me to cover and any guests you would like me to host, kindly comment on this post or use the tab on the side.Tomorrow we will be discussing the language of mental health.

Inspired by the recent Mathari Hospital break out and some ridiculous statements online

I know I have discussed depression so many times before and I know I will discuss it so many times more. Those subscribed to this blog know that the holiday seasons just trigger me really badly. So when people are planning for places to go for the holidays, I am plan on ways to keep depression away. In 2013 and 2014, I had my worst ever bouts of depression to near suicide levels, read about 2014 here.  In 2015, I went all out to do a depression free December exercise  which i must say was really successful. The success of that challenge led me to start a project to look for tools and skill to take care of my mental health dubbed #100daysofmentalhealth

When I had my last major bout of depression, I had just spoken at th
e UN in Addis Ababa and gotten a standing ovation. I had gotten mental health and psychological disorders on 4/11 objectives only to come back home and fall into severe. I spent 3 weeks of the Christmas season in bed, opening my eyes at 8a and struggling to leave bed until 4p. I didn’t answer my phone, I spent my time in bed, when I got out it was by the fridge either binge eating or crying. Then at night it took forever to get sleep and this cycle went on for 3 weeks, I was tired all the time.

For some people this was pure laziness, how can you be stuck in bed for 3 weeks? 

For some people this was being ungrateful, look at the success you had at the UN in Ethiopia? 

But people, that is what depression looks and feels like.

A combination of things like fatigue, lack of appetite or increased appetite, feelings of hopelessness and lost interest in things one loved are red flags. Depending on the triggers and the environment one is in, these red flags might be different and they may differ from situation to situation.

There are definitely people who are more predisposed but we are all predisposed. I was sexually assaulted in 2003 and unchecked trauma from that led to a bipolar diagnosis. Bipolar is a mental health condition where one experiences bouts of depression and episodes of #mania through lengths of time. 

There are meds for all these mental health conditions but I see medication as a last result (and for severe cases). I advocate for self-care, tool boxes, support systems and alignment before medication above institutionalization. I have experienced it all, from taking about 10 tabs just to function to being institutionalized. For some people severe (and unchecked) depression can lead to suicidal ideations and attempts suicide and addiction to drugs and alcohol.

So where to start;

Everyday selfcheck…be in tune with yourself (I know I sound like a yogi…ooooom). On the real though, we let life and social media and a lot of outside noise detect how we are internally. I totally agree with the fact that we cannot control everyone and everything, but we can know how we truly are, how the weather makes us feel. Once we know how we are, we need to embrace or acknowledge and to some extend do something about it. If you find that you have anger in you or haven’t forgiven yourself or someone, do not let it eat you up, do something (positive) about it. Learn ways of letting your anger out, learn to forgive yourself and others, release things and people. I love Erykah Badu’s Bag Lady song, some of us need to stop being bag ladies for our own peace of mind 

Create a tool box for yourself; I did a Vlog for coping mechanisms last year.

Build a community around you. Check in on people – when was the last time you spoke to your brothers and sisters, how are they, like really how are they really doing …upgrade your check in, make them physical (not virtual) if possible, have a phone conversation, a hang out 

There are some people who have learnt the art of masking. We would rather self medicate or look like the life of the party when we are hurting so bad inside. 

Whatever you do, Do not suffer in silence

Where you go for help/support is however as equally important as making the step to ask for help/support. Talk therapy aka counselling would be a nice place to start especially if it gets overwhelming to comb through your self check process. A session with a trained professional or a sound mature soul (there I go with my yogi terms again) would help in this. Depending on the outcomes of the session, you can continue with talk therapy and/or other forms of therapy. One of the most common lines I get in emails is, I have never told anyone this but I have a feeling that you will understand. Group therapy is therefore good as it makes you hear other people’s experience beating the feeling most people have of no else understands.

Again based on the talk therapy session and severity of one’s situation, a visit with a psychiatrist can be encouraged. Not every case of depression needs to be medicated, only severe ones and for a period of time.

 Antidepressants shouldn’t be anybody’s way of life, they shouldn’t be the generator that power our bodies. The media and commercialization have unfortunately made us think that popping a pill makes everything better. Meds should be used together with talk therapy and/or other forms of therapy at all times. 

The forms of therapy is not a one size fits all and so we need to put in the work in knowing what works for us and what doesn’t.

Another unfortunate thing is we are so lazy when it comes to taking care of our minds. If we have any other illness, we will never miss physiotherapy or remove some food items from our diets. But as far as our minds as concerned, the most we can do is go for another meds refill and be content with the ‘happiness’ they give us. Internal and external factors can lead people to depression; trauma, abuse, our coping mechanisms, economic, environmental situations.

It starts with us and regular self-checks, it starts with us constantly upgrading our ‘software’ –coping mechanisms.

It starts with us asking for help and offering help, being a listening ear and not being ashamed to say we are struggling.

It starts with offices, schools, homes, spaces of worship creating safe spaces where people can say they are overwhelmed or struggling without feeling judged.

It starts with men admitting that they too feel overwhelmed, that they need help/support without feeling judged depression.

It starts with society not putting so much pressure of men to be seen and not be heard as far as their mental health issues are concerned depression.

It starts with families with a member going through depression not saying how lazy they are but supporting them instead.

It starts with inclusion…even if they will say they don’t feel like hanging out, never stop asking…let them know you care.

It starts by listening to their words…especially the unspoken ones.
I look forward to a depression free December, second year in a row, this year and wish the same for all of you.

If you already have a depression diagnosis, know your triggers, don’t push people away (note to self) let the full you experience life. My program Spring by MMMF is open to everyone who wants to do some self check and add a few tools to their toolbox

I love you all so so much…have a lovely evening Sweetlings and catch you from 5-6p EAT as we discuss the language of mental health

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