Mental Health for Monica (Jul 2020)

Mon, Jul 18th, 2022 12:00:00 am

This morning I got up before the rest of the house and went for a walk through the neighborhood. I usually do this with the dog or with the kids, and I usually have music or an audio book or use it as a chance to answer emails or check up on clients. Today, I did none of those things. Today it was just me, just the quiet of the morning, and I made a concentrated effort to keep my phone in my pocket for the entire 4 mile walk.

There was a time when this was easier, when we didn’t feel so connected to technology and didn’t feel like there was such a need to multitask our entire days into small squeezed timeslots in our days. There was a time when we didn’t have cell phones or laptops or wireless anything. And maybe we didn’t get as much done but maybe we didn’t feel as obligated to do so much either.

There was a time where we didn’t have cameras on our phones and we relied more on our memories. The view from a lens is never as gorgeous as what it looks like live, but we try so hard to capture every single moment on our devices. Maybe those memories would be more vibrant if we watched it with our eyes rather than our cameras. Maybe we should try to just LIVE and just BE.

Full disclosure ahead to you, dear readers: I take anti-depressants. Some people would tell me I shouldn’t tell you this. I have clients who rely on my advice and potential clients who might be reading this right now and thinking they would never hire someone to help them who “needs drugs to survive life.” But I’ve never been good at hiding things about myself or my life. I try my best to always be authentic, and I don’t think it’s fair to judge anyone until we’ve lived their lives.

I started taking Lexapro a few years ago when my dad died. I had resisted getting help for many years for anxiety and depression because I didn’t want anything to change who I was  at my core as a person. But when my dad passed after years of suffering,  I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. If you’ve ever had one of those moments in life where you know you should be doing something but can’t remember what it is, you might know how I was feeling ALL.THE.TIME. I was anxious and I couldn’t make myself slow down. This has always been a part of my personality (I’ve been called a “Monica” which refers to the perfectionistic character Monica Gellar on “Friends,”) but it suddenly felt suffocating. So eventually, I raised my hand and talked about it with my doctor and she put me on a low dose of the Lexapro

Recently, I read Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed.” If you’re late to the party like I was and haven’t read it, make sure you do as soon as you are done reading this. It’s completely fabulous. She talks about anxiety and how it’s like the anticipation of going to the dentist is worse than the actual drill procedure you’re getting. When she was still married to her husband, her son asked him who he’d take to a deserted island and he said “your mommy.” When his son asked what he’d take with him to the island, he said “your mommy’s medicine.” Glennon is on the same antidepressant as me and she advises people to take their medicine and to keep taking their medicine if they need it. There’s no shame in it. 

My husband doesn’t agree with taking medication for mental health. He thinks it’s a crutch. But here’s what I think about crutches.. If you hurt yourself, do you think it’s better to use crutches while you heal, or should you walk around on your injury? How is your injury going to get any better without the crutch? Sometimes we need that strength when we are feeling weak until we can stand on our own again. The problem occurs with crutches when the people that use them don’t need them.

Not all issues people need medication for seem evident from the outside. I have a friend with a horrible auto-immune disease and some days she looks and acts normal. Other days, she can’t get out of bed. She needs medication, but if you caught her on a “good day” you might wonder why she needs it. Why are mental healthy issues any different? We can’t see all the things that might be going on inside of people. Many of us have hormonal things going on that no one else can see. Some of us are also masters of hiding our pain, inside and out. Why is there shame in addressing those issues?

We all have stuff. Too much stuff. And sometimes we need the quiet. There’s no shame in that. I started taking an antidepressant not because I wanted to numb who I was or to rely on something to give me a shortcut in life. I just wanted to find myself and learn how to walk on my feet again. I still take the Lexapro I was prescribed a couple of years ago and I don’t plan to quit anytime soon. Glennon Doyle suggests you don’t get rid of your umbrella in a heavy rain just because it’s kept you dry. If it’s still raining, you keep yourself protected. That’s okay too. It doesn’t make me a worse mom, wife, friend, trainer, or runner.

There was a time I couldn’t have left the house without something to keep my brain occupied. I’m really trying to be okay with the quiet. There’s a lot of it these days, and also a lot of noise. It’s just a balancing act.  As for that walk, I saw a lot of things that day I’d passed a million times and never really looked at. Life goes by really quick if you blink for too long.


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