We all need mental health days. Some need more than others. For some, it’s become so bad that they cannot work. Depression, Bipolar, Mania, Schizophrenia, etc… Whatever the issue is, there is some form of help for it from doctors and on the internet. If you’re not in a good place, move from there. Keep trying. And keep reading.
My books deal with several mental health issues. Candy and Rachel, in books 1-3, each have life altering events happen to them, and as a result, they wind up with Depression (Candy) and PTSD (Rachel). In Wounds into Wisdom, Candy’s depression may not be obvious to readers, especially at first. She can be silly and mischievous at times, but later, when she finds herself stuck in an abusive relationship, you can really see it. After all, she grew up neglected and mistreated, so, to her, that’s what she’s comfortable with, it’s what she’s used to. In the next book, Turn of the Tide, Candy is dealing with the after-effects of Demitri’s abuse, and it’s extremely hard on her. Her mind is telling her she’s not worth it or she doesn’t deserve to be happy. It takes her a long time to realize that she does deserve to be with someone good, but even then, in the end of the book, she is still not cured. True Depression (not sadness) can’t be prayed away, yoga-d away, wished away, or anything. What Candy needs is medication and support from family and friends.
Speaking from experience, I went way too long without medication and wish I had given in and mentioned it to my doctor sooner. That’s all it took – mentioning it. Our conversation was very short, maybe a few questions long, and I had a prescription for Wellbutrin XL in my hand. She said we’d try different things because different meds work for different people. I was lucky, though, because Wellbutrin XL worked very well for me. I still take it every day, thirteen years later. If I don’t take it (such as when I’m in the hospital after a surgery and they don’t give me my regular meds) I can definitely tell a difference. By day three I’m in that crying-for-no-reason mode that I hate so much. Then I ask for the pill and I’m fine. Depression cannot usually be fixed without medication since the brain chemistry is out of whack.
What else helps? Journaling, writing, Facebook groups, other online groups, and websites like KIOS.KIOSBipolar.com have it all. On KIOS, there’s a journal, daily assessments, advice, and reports with your daily assessment scores and other things you can print out for your doctor. It’s mainly about Bipolar Depression (big ups and downs), but also works for regular Depression.
I also write books where the characters deal with issues that I’ve been through. The issues are always worse in the books; I don’t want anybody to think I’m claiming to have been kidnapped or in a physically abusive relationship. Fortunately, I’ve been able to stop those things from happening before they happen. I write fiction, so, you know…entertainment.
Back to discussing journaling, in Chivalry, Rachel has severe PTSD from her kidnapping, and Erick and her psychologist try to help her by having her write down her story. She’ll read it aloud again and again, maybe write out the whole thing again, read it again, etc, to desensitize her. The more she looks at/faces that story, the less severe it gets each time. I did some research on PTSD while writing Chivalry, and I read that this technique was used on war vets after the Vietnam War and wars after that. It has been a useful technique since then, and is still used today. Just today, I read someone’s post proclaiming their success due to journaling and reading their story, repeatedly. It does take time, but it does work.
Disclaimer: I don’t pretend to know everything about PTSD or Depression, though I have experienced them myself, and I do know that the above techniques and tools mentioned are not the only tools to use. I’m not a doctor, I just play one on…er…I write about them. Do your own research, get a doctor, do what they say to do, and if it doesn’t work, try something else. You just keep trying, like Rachel tells Candy, and like Dory says: