Mental health runs in my genetics, I don’t know if I was truly aware of it when I was younger or understood it. When I got a job working in a busy ER I became super aware of mental health. It really made me aware that I have it in my family and need to be aware of it as it can happen to me at any time. So thanks to starting in that ER in 2006 and really seeing so much since we had a psych ER and then continuing my education and work experience I have had lots of experiences with mental health. I am in no way a professional at all in mental health though. I have taken a lot of classes including a mental health first aid class through the county for a week, but just basics in education and dealing with mental health emergencies especially in the workplace and type of work I have done.
The most important thing I have learned is how much stigma surrounds mental health and I hate that. So here I am openly talking about it. I openly talk about mental health, feelings and positive ways to take care of yourself and your mental health. I think through the last 20 years I have always used alcohol socially, but reflecting back on it I can see how it never did anything positive for me. It is also the worst thing you can do for your mental health. And if you are someone who requires medication for your mental health, then it’s even worst since psychiatric medications don’t always work with alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant too. So if you wonder why you are sad after a night of drinking or on edge, maybe just don’t chose to drink. I’m no doctor, I’m no alcohol and drug counselor, just a person with a lot of experience and health related degrees and a lot of lessons learned the hard way.
I have personally seen someone struggle with their mental health and drink alcohol. I have also first hand been there through all their treatment and removing alcohol from their life. What a world of difference. All of a sudden the medications they take daily for their mental health work. They no longer use alcohol as a mechanism to cope and are with their feelings and emotions and work through them in a healthy way, not with the bottle.
My son has struggled a lot with feelings. Mind you he is 15, so hormones are a big factor. He also has been through a ton of trauma, especially with me, his mom. I openly talk to him often and in a positive way, I offer him counseling if he wants it. I take mental health seriously. I want him to be a happy teen and I am well aware sometimes you just need to talk to someone or maybe due to your brain chemistry need to take something and that’s ok. I just want to be open with him and never make it shameful. Specifically now with all that’s going on in this world and kids not able to participate in normal school and sports, it takes a toll and is so critical to be open and talk.
I am fully aware how common mental health issues are after a brain injury. I see a psychiatrist regularly. I have found every 3 weeks is about what I need. I don’t take medication. But to talk out stuff with a trained professional, one that specializes in TBI is amazing and have found it’s a must for me and it’s so worth it.
Awareness is huge. Being aware, aware of my own medical history, my genetics medical history and not making it a taboo issue and doing healthy things that help with my mood are so important. I move my body daily, I seek help when I need it and regularly also. I make sure that if on Instagram, I don’t follow people who make me feel bad about myself. I don’t read or watch the news often, I like to keep pretty positive things in my life to help my mindset. I write, like this blog because it helps me process and helps me work through things and I also have a private journal to really get out what I feel. I don’t surround myself with negative people who bring me down. I’m very cautious with the kind of energy I let in my life. Especially having a brain injury, that’s hard enough, I really don’t need negative energy around me and people who aren’t willing to take issues in their life and do something about it in a positive way. I have heard the saying you are like the 5 closest people you surround yourself with, I strongly believe that.
I am no expert. But I am someone who truly takes care of and acknowledges my own mental health. If your mental health is suffering, then how can you fully be in the right state of mind in life. Take care of yourself, take care of others and if you know anyone struggling be there for them, reach out. You can make all the difference in the world. It’s lonely out here, especially after a brain Injury, don’t forget everyone is battling something. Just be a good human to others and remember you never know what is happening with someone. mental health is taboo, so many won’t talk about it openly and that’s ok but watch for trigger words and if your friends or family say anything that worries you, get help if needed. I don’t take mental health threats lightly, if you say something that concerns me like you wish you weren’t here or would be better off dead that’s not something I will ignore. I have seen too much in the ER and it’s ok to call for help even if it angers a person. I would rather someone be mad at me rather than do something to harm themselves forever. I have seen how suicide impacts a family, I have never met my uncle but have seen first hand how it affected my family when he took his life.
Go back and check out my February 8th post about my weekend of therapy I went to on my one year TBI date. I invested in myself and my mental health to celebrate the one year of my traumatic brain injury and it was the most amazing way and invest in myself on one of the hardest days of my life. I made something positive out of a horrible day that changed my life. Highly recommend Elyse and her Weekends event and others she has.
Also love this podcast, We Are The Stigma. Check it out. They go over all topics that have stigma like mental health, addiction and more.
And here is some information for the national suicide hotline and their website. 1-800-273-8255