Yesterday evening I made a call to see about getting myself some mental health counseling. For the past three years I have been experiencing episodes where I would become extremely stressed and anxious and end up uncontrollably shaking with a killer headache or where I feel like if I somehow die, everyone would be better off.
No, I don’t want to die because I want to see my kids grow up, and no I am not “strong” enough to hurt myself, but I have imagined freak accidents like passing away in my sleep due to eating some bad food for dinner or getting stung by some deadly unknown bug, or getting into a bizarre car accident or getting shot by some crazed racist (since I do live in the south where racism is very much alive.)
I have been battling with this on my own with the support of the many strong and fabulous women in my inner circle. My mother, grandmother, sisters, cousins, mother-in-law, and friends.
I realized that I am always busy taking care of everyone else and I neglect taking care of myself. In realizing this, I also realized that if I am not okay, I cannot do my best or be my best for my kids. I used to believe that they needed to see their mother remain strong in tough situations so that one day when they get older they could follow suit, but I have since realized this was a fallacy.
I would much rather my kids see me getting help and helping myself; realizing I potentially have a problem and finding a way to “fix it” rather than see me in a light that portrays me as being perfect. I want them to know that I am not perfect.
Should either of my children grow up feeling even an ounce of what I’ve been feeling, I want them to feel courageous enough to admit to these feelings and therefore seek help, rather than deny them and let them fester.
The goal is to raise children who don’t need to recover from their childhood. The goal is to set an example for our children and be sure they are instilled with the proper tools that would enable them to live their best life.
I want my children to be confident and unafraid of asking for help. So I needed to set that example. I need to be confident and in being confident I needed to accept that it’s okay to ask for help–something I have never been good at.
So yesterday, I swallowed my “pride” and made that call. The woman on the other end of the phone was clearly confused from the start of the conversation. See, I use a sign language relay service called Sorenson to make all of my outgoing phone calls. With this service I am able to make regular phone calls but the difference is I use sign language to communicate through an interpreter and the interpreter uses their voice on my behalf. Confusing? Think of a conversation going on between an English-speaking person and a Spanish-speaking person with the help of an interpreter. Check this link for more information about Sorenson.
So anyway, I quickly realized this woman wasn’t sure what was going on despite the fact that my interpreter explained that the phone call was being made by a deaf person who uses sign language, so I re-explained that she was hearing someone else’s voice but that someone else was using my words. Things clicked for her momentarily.
She searched for mental health facilities that specifically catered to deaf people and her search only came up with one result. I told her she didn’t have to look for a facility that specifically catered to deaf people, she could broaden her search to include “regular” facilities and I’ll just enlist a sign language interpreter from a sign language interpreting agency. This confused her. So I tried a different angle.
I said, “I can hear, I lost half of my hearing in both ears, and I can speak very clear, most people aren’t even aware that I am deaf until I tell them. I’ll mostly utilize an interpreter just to be sure I don’t miss any crucial information, but all in all my lip-reading skills are on point”
And boy, her light bulb went off! She said, “Oh! well, that makes a huge difference” I really didn’t see how but in the end she referred me to a different and better (per google reviews) mental health facility. She offered to make an appointment for me to which I declined her offer, I wanted to do it myself. I needed to.
I only told this story to encourage all of you–disabled or not–to seek help whenever you feel like you need it. Sweeping things under the rug can prove to be more damaging than helpful. Wouldn’t you want to want to be able to say “I’m going to be okay, I will get through this”? Wouldn’t you want to feel better about yourself? Doesn’t the idea of waking up one day and actually looking forward to your day sound like a slice of heaven?
I bet it does.
In the meantime I do partake in some self-therapeutic methods because I am aware that it isn’t free to just knock on a psychologists/psychiatrist door and ask for help. My advice is to find something you love doing and do it when you are feeling those feelings of anxiety or depression. I know that it is sometimes hard to get up and go when you are feeling depressed, but try to think about a time you were doing something you loved and try to recapture that moment.
Below are some of the things I like doing:
- Writing short stories. If I am feeling down, I found that It is easier for me to create characters who aren’t and this lifts my spirits; living in my happy characters’ world is like a little vacation from my reality. On the other hand if someone in my life pisses me off, I can always write a story where they get hurt insert evil grin here.
- Listening to smooth Soul and R&B music. I tend to listen to a lot of smooth R&B music, preferably songs sang by men. I find their voices to be soothing especially Luther Vandross. His voice is literally like butter, it makes everything better. But I also prefer male singers for another weird and unrelated reason as well. For some reason in society most men are conditioned not to show their feelings and to carry these tough personas so I find it refreshing when a man goes against the grain and openly expresses his feelings.
- Taking a hot bath with scented aroma therapy Epsom salt. I don’t know whether it’s the heat from the water that melts my anxiety and anger away, or if the aroma therapy thing is real (I’m still skeptical, don’t judge me), but I recently added this to my list of stress/anger relievers and it works wonders!
- Read a book. As I’ve mentioned earlier, walking in a characters shoes is an escape from my reality. I like to read fiction books (my favorite author is Janet Evanovich) and as bad as it sounds, reading about someone else’s problems help me see that maybe my problems aren’t as “unsolvable” as I believe them to be.
- Talk to my loved ones. Communication is definitely the key to everything. Anyone I’ve ever vented to would tell you when I am angry or frustrated I express my feelings in such a raw and otherwise “effed up” yet hilarious manner. And for that, I’ve come to appreciate my moments of frustration and anger because apparently that’s when my creativity shines through the most.
What are some ways you relieve stress or lift your spirits/ mood?