Mental Health Matters Pt 1
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Ok! Today I wanna go a little deeper on a topic I’m already a little known for being vocal about. Mental health. Both pre- and postpartum.
So let’s start from the top! A 15-year-old Rashida in a new world that doesn’t include her mom. Upon losing my mom I remember my aunt suggesting I go to therapy and I remember saying no. I thought I didn’t need it. And instead I did, what I now know to be something I’m really good at, I did what needed to be done. For years afterwards I kept myself from grieving by doing the next thing. It started as, “Ok. I just need to finish high school.” Then it became choose a college, then get to college, then pay for college, then graduate college, then get a job. All of this while dealing with an ever changing family dynamic over those years.
It wasn’t until I was 21 and looking adult life in the face that I was out of “next things.” I had done all the things. Checked all the boxes. Now what?! Depression. That’s what! Finally coming to terms with the fact that I’d lost my mom and I was never getting her back. That’s what! Anger!!!! That’s what! I was so fucking angry! I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to move forward. I remember laying in my bed in my college apartment and thinking, “Honestly. What’s the point?!” I knew then that something wasn’t quite right. This feeling of deep darkness wasn’t normal for me, and nor did I need it to become my normal. I went to the student clinic at Mizzou, explained my situation and feelings and just like that, I was diagnosed with depression.
The meds did what they were supposed to do, and I started to feel better. Fast forward a year into my first job (the place I now work again) and it turns out the meds weren’t enough. I mean, meds are great! They take the edge off, but they don’t teach you how to cope. I needed to do the work to heal. I can’t quite remember what lead time to find the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, but I did and landed myself on the couch of my very first therapist, Debbie.* I worked with Debbie for about a year before she moved to be closer to her family and at that point I considered myself “cured.” I talked to someone (check). I went off my meds (check).
Here’s what I can tell you; you’re likely never “healed.” It’s not a dislocated shoulder. Depression can’t just be reset and off you go. It takes work! It takes a commitment to show up for yourself. In January of 2016 I was yet again out of things to do. I’d found the guy. I’d married the guy. I’d started a new, big corporate job. We had a dog. Check, check, Mothafuckin’ check! And yet - “Hello, Darkness, my old friend!” The depression had snuck back in. Only this time, he brought his bestie, Annie Anxiety. The thoughts of, “What’s the point?!" where back. I found myself wishing my life to fast forward, toward what I wasn’t sure. This time I knew myself enough to not let it get totally out of control again. Back to The St. Louis Psychanalytic Institue I went, and that’s when I was paired with my current therapist, Dave.* Nine months later I had a panic attack at At Home and had to immediately abandon my cart and go to my car and wait it out. That’s the moment I knew....I needed meds and that I'd likely be on them for the rest of my life.
Over the years I’ve become VERY protective of my mental health. I’ve learned that I needed to attack it on all fronts. I see Dave once a week (sometimes every other depending on what’s going on in my life), I take Zoloft and I have to work out as often as my schedule allows. If any one of those starts to take a backseat in my life, I feel it. It starts as low grade anxiety and plummets from there. This is who I am and I accept that! I’ve gone through hell and back in this life so it’s no wonder I need a little help coping.
I intended to go into maternal mental health in this post, but I think want to do that topic on its own to give it the real estate it deserves. So more to come there.
One last thing before I go! I want to point out that mental health is a deeply personal journey. You can be depressed without having lost a parent. It’s all relative to you and only you....
Take care of yourself, you're always worth it.