Keep talking about mental health

I went shopping this evening for a few things for my upcoming Appalachian Trail hike. I will have more on that in another post though. I have something important that I need to write about.

I bumped into someone I haven’t seen in a couple of years and our conversation led to what I was buying and why.

When I told her about my plan to spend ten days on the Appalachian Trail, her immediate response was, “you must be doing really well. You look and sound incredibly happy!”

A couple of years ago, her and I talked about mental illness. I don’t remember how the conversation started but I told her that I have depression and anxiety and was struggling a lot. A few days (or weeks later) she told me that a family member attempted suicide, was not doing well, and didn’t know how to help them.

I listened. And I listened. And I listened. It was really hard to listen to what I was hearing but peer-to-peer support builds empowerment and hope. It allows for people to become comfortable talking about what they are feeling in hopes that they will reach out to a mental health professional.

Please do not hesitate to ever talk to someone about how you are feeling and if someone reaches out to you, meet them with kindness and open arms. Please do not invalidate how they are feeling just because you may not understand or relate. There is a reason why they chose you.

My response to her observation of me doing well was yes I am but I still have challenging times. The dark moments are far and few between now.

How did I do it?

  • Talking to my doctor and working with her to find a medication that works well for me. Being open to the fact that I may need to change the medication or dosage as time goes on. Also, accepting that I will 99.999% likely have to take medication for the rest of my life.
  • I quit alcohol. Self-medicating with booze was a terrible idea but it was how it got my needs met when I had no other tools.
  • I have immersed myself into hiking and camping. Not just the physical act of doing both, but the community and the culture.
  • Backpack Chronicles. A place for me to share my mental health journey, advocate for mental health, and document my adventures in the outdoors.

Create the life you want and know you deserve!

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