Hello from the Farm!
Wow! As I have gone through Facebook this week, I have seen so many posts about this year’s Mental Health Week.
I love how so many people are authentic and want to reach out and help others. One of my Facebook friends wrote candidly about her unsuccessful attempt at suicide a few years ago. It was heartbreaking, but at the same time I was overwhelmed by her bravery to share this story with others who may be experiencing similar thoughts.
Mental illness is real. My brother and I grew up in a house with two parents who had mental illness, but no one acknowledged it. No one talked about things like this in the seventies and eighties, and I think people just assumed their actions were part of their general make-up.
My brother and I watched our dad act out his OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) behaviors, but we didn’t know this was odd. We did know that his behavior made my mother angry and frustrated and there was a lot of arguing about his inability to leave the house without going back five, ten, or twenty times to see if the door was locked.
My mother, on the other hand, lived in a state of mild depression with dips into deep melancholy.
For my brother and me, this was our reality. And, I don’t want to paint a picture of a horrible childhood. It was quite the opposite. We were educated; we took fun family vacations; we loved one another; and there was never a time when either of us suffered physically from their mental states. Today, my dad, brother and I are good friends and we choose to spend a lot of time together. Before my mother became ill, we had dinner together once a week at my parents’ home.
I often think about how different our lives would have been had the subject of mental illness not been taboo. What if my mother had received treatment for her depression? What if my father had heard of a mental illness called OCD, recognized it, and been treated as a person in his twenties rather than a grown man in his fifties?
I began treatment for OCD when I was in my early thirties. It was my dad who explained the disorder and his success with the medication. Within weeks of taking medication, my life began to change. No longer was I trapped in a loop of anxiety and worry over basic life decisions and actions. Over twenty years later, I still take my medication daily and I am able to live a life without the distractions caused by this illness.
Last year, I was diagnosed with ADHD. For some reason, I had always associated ADHD with boys and young people. Yet, when I researched, I found that many adults (both, men and women), live with this condition – some manage with medication; some manage with cognitive therapy; and some don’t manage it at all. I choose to manage mine with medication and therapy.
One doctor suggested that many entrepreneurs have ADHD, and many live with Ferrari brains and bicycle brakes! Personally, I like having a Ferrari brain, and I am gradually learning how to use the brakes.
My friend, John Ring, is walking across America to raise awareness about veterans’ mental illness issues. This is a big deal. Our veterans are returning with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), depression, and suicidal thoughts. Our veterans fought for us. Now, it is our time to fight for them. You can follow John’s walk on Facebook at Buddy Watch Walk — Pier to Pier.
Your mental health is important. You are important.
And, like my mama always said, “In the South, we don’t hide our crazy. We put it out on the front porch and give it a cocktail!”
Feel free to join me for a cocktail any time-
You are wonderful!