Merci. Gracias. 감사합니다. Shukran. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me after reading my most recent posts about coping with mental illness and expat woes. Many of you have virtually held my hand and reminded me that I’m not in this alone. The thick fog and darkness are slowly giving way to clarity and light. The tears are still flowing, but I suppose there should be tears when you’re unmasking your pain.
Exposing my vulnerabilities for all to see was very scary. I had no idea when I hit publish what the response would be. All I knew was that I couldn’t keep silent any longer. Admitting to my struggle with depression was and still is especially frightening. However, I have found peace, comfort, and encouragement in the messages so many of you have shared. Here are a few that stood out to me:
Remember the stepping stones that God has put before you to excel to new & exciting heights. Your Soul and Spirit has lead you to this place in life. STOP resisting & be open to where the higher power wants to take you. You have learned your lesson’s of life hard. Don’t give up!!!!!
People without depression or other mental health issues are often unwilling or unable to understand. When you look to these people and they rebuff you, it compounds the loneliness and isolation you feel. It’s terribly dismissive. Don’t take it personally, they literally don’t have the exposure or experience to actually understand your perspective. The most effective tool in fighting what I call “the pitiful petty beast” is realizing that it is something in you that you have to address head on. Next is realizing where it shows up in your life and the tiniest of actions, swaying sometimes even the smallest decisions. Those microdecisions, if negative, can lead you down a tortuous path of self-pity, self-loathing, and a sense of isolation that only breeds destruction of relationships, be they with others or with yourself. I’ve literally seen people rot from its effects and you have too great a potential to let this beast drag you away. Be encouraged. Look fear in its eye and tell it, “I see you and I’m not running.”
I understand the sentiment…I have felt this in different circumstance, but relocating to the opposing coast, and being the eccentric is indeed a particular thing. I’ve found it has major components of relatability. How humans connect has much to do with the day to day, and living styles. Consider the emotionality of most families. Folks aren’t necessarily used to being open about feelings, emotions, desires, disappointments. To expect this vividness from this can be a set up for ourselves emotionally. They are full of love, but this is a very hard world and time for all. Going to therapy is taboo, any form of self care makes people apprehensive when they don’t have a foundation for it. Your yearning is not uncommon, though it always feels isolating. It’s a struggle for all those who live outside, whatever that means to whomever it concerns. Acceptance is very difficult, and is indeed a living idea. Just as is love. You are paving your own way, and that is lonely, there would be a craving inside of you no matter what your situation because you crave information, you crave ideas and thinking…you crave life. So be gentle with yourself. Your desire is natural. You express very well, and it helps people see an example of how to open. You will meet kindreds along the way. This will be a gift to you, not necessarily a guarantee. So connect when you can, give when you can, back off when you need to, continue to express. And know life is beautiful and flawed.
I have also realized that my “abnormality” isn’t so abnormal after all. A few of you admitted to battling depression as well. Of that few, some of you told me that you had come out the victor on the other side of the battle. That was encouraging. Here are some of the strategies and tools you shared with me that helped you overcome or currently manage depression:
- talking to a therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist
- exercise and proper nutrition
- a combination of 2 or more of the above
As for me, I am in the process of finding a therapist locally and going from there. Though I prefer a practitioner who is covered by my health insurance here in the UAE, I am also open to paying a reasonable out of pocket fee to have Skype or phone sessions with someone who might better be able to suit my particular preferences – woman, unbiased religiously, does not rely heavily on medication as the first and only line of defense, native English speaker, bonus points if she’s an American woman of color. So, if you know someone who is a reliable Skype therapist, feel free to send me your recommendation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental illness isn’t something many of us discuss openly. And it’s certainly not something people of color discuss in public or in private. At least, that has been my experience up until now. There are far too many of us suffering in silence for fear of brining up the taboo subject and/or being seen as an outcast. Hopefully, this trend will change soon. Learn from my mistakes, suffering silently is self-destructive.
In an effort to continue this discussion and to keep myself accountable, I will write an update post after I have had my first (first few?) therapy sessions. In the meantime, take care of yourself.