May 5, 2020

What is mental illness?


May 4th – 8th is Maternal Mental Health Week. I will be posting every day regarding maternal mental health. If you missed my story yesterday regarding the darkest point of my PPD/PPA journey, I urge you to read it.

What people might think mental illness is:
A weakness.
A bad day.
A character flaw.
An excuse.
The fault of the person inflicted.
Something to hide.
Something that shouldn’t be discussed.
Something you should be able to “snap out of”.
A lack of faith.
A lack of prayer.
A lack of positivity.
A lack of focus.
A lack of determination.
A lack of willpower.
A lack of resilience.
That it means you are “crazy”.
That it means you are violent and dangerous.

What mental illness ACTUALLY is:
Diagnosable, treatable, medical disorders.

The brain is an organ that can have disease processes just the same as any other organ.

Nobody would ever tell an asthmatic to not use their inhaler for an asthma attack. Even though you can’t actually see the bronchospasm, inflammation and increased mucous production occurring, you can recognize the symptoms of it, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, coughing, etc.

Mental illness is no different. The brain is experiencing biochemical and hormonal imbalances that disallow normal cognitive processes. You can see the symptoms of these various disorders (depression, bipolar, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, etc), such as: sadness, excessive crying, fatigue, insomnia, apathy, agitation, weight gain, weight loss, guilt, hopelessness, isolation, suicidality, high energy, loss of touch with reality, mood swings, euphoria, irritability, risk taking behavior, hypervigilance, nightmares, flashbacks, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, excessive worry, nausea, palpitations, compulsive behavior, and many more.

We need to get better at recognizing that these are symptoms of a very real illness and help people get care. Their brain needs treatment. And we also need to remember that sometimes in the worst of mental illness that person can’t reach out, so it is our job to REACH IN!

Understanding this is the first step toward easing access to treatment through acknowledgment and early recognition. Donating to organizations that are pushing this fight forward is one way you can help today! On this #GivingTuesday, I have chosen 

Better Beginnings, LLC

 as my charity of choice. Lauren was my lifeline. Even though I was unable to get treatment at her facility, she still walked me through everything, called to check on me, and held my hand from afar. I don’t know if I would have made it without her. In fact, I sent her the following message on February 27, after being home for nearly 2 weeks:

“I just wanted to reach back out to you to thank you. You truly were integral in saving my life. If you hadn’t reached out right away and guided me on the Zulresso process, I might not have been able to hang on. There just aren’t enough words to thank you. In those moments, I didn’t believe I was worth saving. Even though you don’t know me, you still did everything you could for me. Thank you. I wish my insurance would have approved me to use your facility – I am sorry they didn’t. I did go inpatient at UNC for almost 2 weeks while my family fought with BCBS for the infusion. It was literally down to the wire for the approval, but we got it. And I did the infusion on 2/11-2/14. Within 24 hours, the SI disappeared and hasn’t come back. My appetite also improved and my mood lifted somewhat. I still have a long ways to go, but know now that with further treatment I will get better. I’m not hopeless anymore and am not nearly as severe as before. Thank you so very, very much for supporting me at my lowest, most vulnerable time.”

The treatment programs and availability at 

Better Beginnings, LLC

 is truly a blessing to their community. The following link is for donations towards their intensive outpatient Mother/Baby program for those that cannot afford treatment:

#maternalmentalhealth #maternalmentalhealthmatters #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #maternalmentalhealthmonth #mentalhealthmonth #makingovermotherhood #motherhoodisnotblackandwhite #ppd #ppa #ppptsd #ppocd #2020mom #postpartumdepression #postpartumanxiety #postpartumptsd #postpartumocd #depression #anxiety #insomnia #intrusivethoughts #suicidalideation
#thebluedotproject #momcongress #Zulresso
#maternalmentalhealthweek2020 #mmhweek2020