Today is World Mental Health Day – the 25th World Mental Health Day. Do we say “Happy World Mental Health Day?” hmmmm that doesn’t seem right, does it.
I wish this was just another day and not one that we needed to call attention to the millions around the world who live with a mental health condition of some sort. But it’s not just another day, and it is a day which is deserving of attention, if for no other reason to help raise awareness of how common depression, anxiety and the other conditions truly are. It’s a day where people like myself can help to put a “face” to a disease by choosing to speak out if they choose to, in order to help humanize their conditions in some way.
For me, its also a day to be consciously thankful. I’m thankful because, no matter how bad some days are, I know that I have it pretty good these days – I’m aware of others who are struggling and want them to find what works for them. Because without the medications that I religiously take, I know what my life would be like – I’ve been there, I’ve seen it and it isn’t pretty. Because my doctors and therapists have partnered with me to ensure I maintain where I am now – we’re in this together and will keep moving forward. Because I have insurance and I’m able to get both care and these medications that enable me to be “normal” or at least to function on a day-to-day basis. Because I have some of the most incredible people in my life who check-in and sincerely care about what is going on with me and my life – who listen and who ask the tough questions sometimes. Because of this outlet, I’m able to put my thoughts to “paper” and share with the world – even if it’s really only beneficial to me. Mostly I’m thankful for the path, the trek that I’m on and that I’m not the me who was in hiding a few years ago.
Having chronic major depression like I do really can suck – I hate that I have to take medications, that I’ve gained all this weight, that its harder to really laugh somedays. But it has made me get in touch with who I am (sounds hippy dippy I know) but I’ve learned to listen to myself and to keep an eye on my energy levels, my sleep, my moods in ways that most people don’t ever pay attention to. For that, I have to respect this condition and work on living with it day in and day out.
Next weekend is my 30th high school reunion, and of course this little event is stiring up a host of emotions. I haven’t attended a a reunion yet and to say that I’m nervous is a minor understatement. I have a love-hate relationship with my memories from high school. I was on the fringe – I wasn’t athletic or super popular or super smart or a loaner, I just didn’t really fit in. I remember just wanting to escape, escape from my home and from the tiny community that sprouted in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to be on my own, starting my new life at college, and in fact, I chose my college partially because almost no-one from my home town was going there. When I graduated from high school, I did just that – I escaped, only coming home for the mandatory holidays. I lost touch with my friends and started anew.
As the years went by, if I’m being honest, I didn’t really think of high school. I made great friends at UCSD, and had a fantastic community of post-college friends in LA that filled any hole I may have had. I through myself into work and when the 10 year came along, I was out of the country on business. Same thing for my 20th, but by then I had also started my journey with depression too although at that time, it was pretty well managed (or at least that’s what I thought.). But something also happened that year, I ran into a friend from elementary school while shopping in San Diego and that little run-in has lead to reconnecting with a small group of high school friends and we see each other a several times a year. I’m comfortable with these guys, but that has happened over time and wasn’t immediate.
Enter the 30th – first, I guess there’s the Facebook situation. I’ve connected with a lot of classmates over social media and I’m pretty real when it comes to what I post and share. But Facebook and real life are two completely different things. But next week over 100 of these long lost classmates will all be together and I’m more than a little nervous. I’m not dreading it, but I’m nervous since this will be the first time in literal decades that I’ll be seeing some of these people. Will they be holding onto old memories or opinions from 1987? Will it be comfortable? Will I make a fool of myself? I was voted “Most Confident” back then which I interpreted as a nice way of saying “Biggest Bitch” and I can’t seem to shake the concern that that is what people thought of me — that is the lingering fear that I’m holding on to. I’ve also been helping to plan the event which brings up a whole different set of concerns – will people be happy with it? will they have a good time? I know these things are out of my control, but it still weighs heavy on me in these days leading up to the event.
I know the next week is going to be super busy with last minute prep work, and I’m glad for that. I’m hoping that that will help to ease some of my nerves and concerns. And there is a part of me (albeit, a smaller part) that is excited to see everyone and to really connect in real life vs. virtual land of social media. I’m going to try to be in the moment, practicing some meditation to help ease my concerns and after that – just take it as it comes. In the end, that’s really all I can do anyways, right?