Monday, January 13, 2014

More than just winter blues: A real discussion about mental health

Natalie P. Mohr is the author of "The Tale of the Lantern Lady," an allegorical short story about those who suffer from mental illness and depression and those who bridge the gap between pain and positive change in their lives.

Lessons from a Medicated Mama
*a guest post from author Natalie Mohr*

Motherhood can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences. As mothers, we feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment through our roles and the reciprocated love from our children. However, when combined with mental illnesses or depression, the responsibilities of having a little one dependent on you can seem overwhelming and even impossible.

Mental illness is a topic that is often not discussed. However the National Alliance for Mental Illness states that 1 in 4 Americans experience some form of depression or mental illness. Many feel their struggle must be kept "in the closet" and fear the potential criticisms of others. Attitudes like "hide you're crazy," "suck it up," "get it together," and "quit being lazy," are examples of negative stigma that deter many from seeking help. It's not "all in your head" or something you can just talk yourself out of.

For genuine mental illness, those are uniformed and unreasonable expectations. A great number of people suffer from mental illness and are on medication, but do not openly disclose their struggle. I am not suggesting that people to tell the world about their difficulties, because the unfortunate reality is that those who have not gone through it themselves may not understand. I am sharing my experience to encourage those who battle mental illness or depression and tell you that you are not alone.

Support groups may also help validate your concerns and connect with others are experiencing the same issues. I also hope to educate those who may have loved ones that suffer from mental illness or depression. It is important to note that I am not a mental health professional, but am sharing this from a personal perspective.

My 13 year struggle with bi-polar disorder, anxiety and seasonal affective disorder has been a constant cycle of ups and downs.At times, the rocky road has led me to feel that my daily motherhood and household responsibilities were insurmountable. I have had difficulties holding employment many times due to stress and anxiety. I have reached points in my depression where I have been completely incapacitated and relied on my support system of family, therapist and doctors to literally fight an uphill battle to survive. I have gone through a suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts. It has taken me years to learn to cope with this illness and learn to "practice" the skills that I need to maintain my mental health. I had to accept that my bi-polar symptoms are not shortcomings and are beyond my control. I had to own the responsibility of maintaining my mental health by taking proactive steps and making healthy choices. For the gritty and very real version of Natalie's journey, see her other guest posts via Hope Rising - Natalie Part 1 and Hope Rising - Natalie Part 2

Unfortunately, there is no "cure" for bi-polar disorder. It has been a challenge for me to understand that my illness does not define me, despite the difficulties.

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In posts 2 and 3, coming later this week, Natalie will share her own personal tips for coping with mental illness. Her story is real, and we both hope that sharing it will give someone else a glimmer of hope and the strength to fight through it.

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"The Tale of the Lantern Lady" 
ISBN 978-1494233853
  Paperback $4.93
  Kindle $3.00

Apple iBook Store for iPad $6.99

Blurb Bookstore - fully illustrated version 7"x7"
  Softcover $16.99
  Hardcover, dust jacket $29.19
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