I sit here, staring at my computer screen. I’m not entirely sure what to write. How honest do you get in one of these posts? Do people want to hear the nitty-gritty of my depression, or, will they simply take a deep sigh and say, ‘go for a walk and get over it.’ This blog is mostly about personal finance,but interestingly enough, our biggest views come from when I speak about mental health and finances. We get more all sorts of feedback from you guys, of encouragement and praise, saying that reading these posts helps them feel a little less alone.
It’s been a year since I’ve taken my two month sabbatical from the real world. So much has changed in this past year. I have used this year to really examine and evaluate what it is like to live with depression. I read somewhere, that depression is like having all of your nerve-endings on the outside of your skin. That with every movement, word, emotion and event, you feel it that much more. However, depression can still be a dirty word. People like me aren’t ‘supposed’ to have depression. I have an amazing life (fact) so what right do I have to be depressed? I’m sure many of us who battle depression have had this conversation in our heads.
My tangible expression of my depression was spending money. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know that I loved spending money. The thrill of a sale, the victory of getting the perfect outfit and the satisfaction of eating a delicious meal at an upscale restaurant. There is no problem with spending your money the way you want. There is a problem when you’re using shopping as a means to distract yourself from the real emotional shit stirring inside of you.
At the ripe old-age of 33, finances and I finally click. We get each other, I respect money and in time it has respected me back. A large reason for this has been dealing with my un-diagnosed depression. Being on my medication has made me feel more balanced and self-aware. In turn, I have been able to find other things to make me happy. When I see my credit card bill come in, I’m not terrified to look at it. I can look at my savings account and not be embarrassed. I can keep to a budget. This may all seem, I don’t know the word, childish perhaps? Maybe you’re thinking, “Gold star for Lindsey for keeping to a budget! What an idiot.” You have your right to think that. It is embarrassing that its taken me over 30 years to understand a budget. What I am saying is that oftentimes, our obsessive need to spend money is our way to ignore what’s really going on. Whether its mental health, a troubled relationship, stress with the kids, your job, the list can go on and on. Take it from me, once you get your mental health in check, good things will follow. It may take a long time (a year for me) but I promise you, you will get there.
With my new-found confidence (and under doctor supervision) I am starting to wean myself off my antidepressants. It’s going to take a while (as it should – don’t ever do this cold turkey), but I am hoping that it works. There have been a few bumps (a few nights crying in bed, feeling a little numb, headaches, tingling feeling in my hands) but the difference is, I am able to move forward. Small, baby steps forward. I can’t do this without my village – my incredible family and friends who have seen it all, and still stick by my side. If you have recently been diagnosed with a mental health issue, use your village! If you don’t have anyone, I will be your village. Part of recovery is simply talking. If it makes people uncomfortable, they will find a way to exit your life. This may be hard, but at the end of the day, it’s much better. Once you start talking, you will find you’re not alone. SO many of us suffer. Initiatives, like Bell Let’s Talk Day, help remind us to simply talk.
If you’re reading this and all of this is making sense, please go to your doctor and talk to them. Pick up the phone and call your best friend. You may cry and be super emotional, but I promise you, there is a light at the end. I have used this blog as my online journal, chronicling my grief, spending habits, lessons learned and mental health journey. When we first started this blog, I never believed I would use it as a platform to talk about my personal life. However, as I have learned, all of these things intersect and influence one another.
As I move into the next chapter of life with depression, I look forward to the many lessons learned and personal insights I will learn along the way. I plan on updating all of these things on the blog, so if this was of interest to you, I promise to bring you along the way.
Mental health doesn’t have to define you. It doesn’t have to be the boogie man hiding under your bed. There is help and resources. Please remember, even if you feel it, you’re never alone. You always have me.