The mind: A not so great depression

January 22, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

Mental health is an issue that has only grown in recent years. More discussions, calls for work-life balance, burnout, therapy; all these concepts and ideas have become more of a focus.

And it’s a big discussion for January. The saddest day of the year is generally the third Monday of January, called “Blue Monday.” Maybe January is just a lousy month in general. After the excitement of Christmas and end-of-year holiday celebrations, we’re feeling the hangover. Kind of feels like nothing is happening. Perhaps how you feel at the beginning of a new year can carry throughout the rest of it. 

I’d argue that the mind is a frontier we’ve yet to fully explore and understand. As humans, we’ve conquered the seas, explored new worlds, conquered vast lands, followed a manifest destiny to tame the Wild West, and put men on the moon. But the mind is such a tricky place to explore. And it’s very easy, and dangerous, to get lost in. Even if it’s in your own head, you may think you know yourself, and it’s scary to get lost in your own head. The feeling of being stuck and unable to escape.

Programs and initiatives, like Bell Let’s Talk and Mental Health Awareness Month to help bring information about mental health issues, to break the stigma, have only increased. Because mental health is a broad umbrella of different types, anxiety, agitation, stress, Bipolar disorder, and depression are just some. And it’s difficult to fully help someone because no two people are exactly alike.

The thing with mental health and depression is it’s harder to physically see. You can see when someone has a broken arm dealing more with health issues, but mentally, it’s tougher to see. But it’s there. Look at someone’s personality and interaction, how they sound, what they say. They might be cold, quiet, lethargic, or just lay in bed and not be responsive. But you can’t see what’s going on in their mind.

The biggest problem with mental health is that it also impacts your physical health. Depending on your mental health, you might eat too much or too little. You lack sleep. Long-term effects like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke can be traced back to mental health issues. You might turn to drugs or alcohol and cause even more serious damage to yourself. And, of course, there’s the big one – suicide.

When something is bothering me, and I think of it at night, it’s impossible to sleep. Then I get agitated; my body temperature starts making me feel like I’m on fire. And the lack of sleep means I don’t have a good day. 

When your body takes a beating, you muscle your inner strength to pull yourself up. But when your mind is down, your body – and everything else – falls into that same hole, and makes it even tougher to get out of. Physically, you can do it, but your mind says no, and so your body follows your mind. Mental health has no particular target. Anyone at any age can be impacted – even children – regardless of race, religion, or physical attributes. 

In today’s world, there are so many more internal and external factors that play a role in our mental health. The mind is a constant battle zone that’s become even harder to maneuver through and, at times, overcome and win.

Of course, the stigma around mental health is a massive problem, and that’s what needs to be looked at. When judgment is removed, it makes those barriers easier to go through to seek help. 

But mental health shouldn’t be something discussed for only a day, or even a month. It’s something we, either individually or in our circle of friends, families, colleagues – whoever – need to undertake constantly. Don’t be ashamed to seek a therapist or just talk to someone. 

The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one, then seeking a solution. Talking to someone, even a friend, goes a long way. You feel like you can move forward. When I keep something to myself, it impacts my family and friends because eventually, they know something is bothering me, and it festers inside me, growing darker and uglier until it comes out, and an unpleasant fight ensues. Please talk to someone whenever you can. For those on the other end, please be there for that person reaching out. You are a help, even if you think you’re not. Don’t make it harder for them than it already is. 

Progress on the mind has been made, but there’s still a vast uncharted frontier in there that we’ve yet to fully discover and realize. The journey to improving mental health is not finished. 

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