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  • Writer's pictureAndré Delicata

Some notes on Mental Health

There's a heightened awareness these days on the increase in mental health issues, yet people with mood disorders are still sometimes looked upon by many as being weak, with limited abilities and capabilities.

Few realise that some of the most brilliant people in this planet's history were, and are, people who struggled or struggle with mental health. Here are a few examples.

  • Abraham Lincoln suffered from severe and incapacitating depression with suicidal ideations at times.

  • Vincent Van Gogh, the celebrated artist suffered from bipolar disorder.

  • Isaac Newton struggled with mental health issues.

  • Ernest Hemingway, the Pulitzer-winning novelist suffered from suicidal depression.

  • Michelangelo suffered from mood disorder issues.

  • Winston Churchill's Black Dog moods are well documented. He was bipolar.

  • Charles Dickens suffered from clinical depression.

Celebrities are not immune from mood disorders.

  • Leonardo di Caprio suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Daniel Radcliffe also suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  • Lady Gaga struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Adele had postpartum depression.

  • Carrie Fischer suffered from bipolar disorder.

Depression is often misunderstood by the general public, confused with normal sadness. Bipolar disorder is often thought to be the normal mood swings caused by life events that all people experience.

They are not. Clinical depression is not normal sadness, and bipolar disorder is not normal mood swings or moodiness. There are exact medical criteria to distinguish between what is normal and what is a clinical mood disorder.

Mood disorders can be debilitating at times. At times, people who struggle find it hard to get out of bed, and do simple things such as have a shower or answer a phone call. Yet such people show strength and resilience in the face of their struggles. Many hold stable jobs, some managerial or professional. They march on in life, not letting their condition control their life.

They go through bad patches, and a word of advice to people who are close to them; in those times, they don't need your pearls of wisdom. They need your presence in their lives. Your being there for them at the time when you need it. They need you to check in on them even when they seem to be ok. The fact that they seem ok doesn't mean that they are.

For those who suffer, I would like to end this piece with some tips that may help:

  • Keep in mind that you are not your condition. Your condition is just one other aspect of your life that needs to be dealt with.

  • Seek medical advice. Follow it.

  • Psychotherapy and similar forms of therapy help. Ask your medical practitioner to refer you.

  • Take any medications prescribed regularly, and exactly in the way prescribed by your medical practitioner.

  • Form a support network.

  • Reach out to your support network when you feel an episode is coming up.

  • Consider attending a support group/patient association.

  • Try to pick up a hobby, something you enjoy.

  • Exercise especially outdoor activities has been shown to help.

  • Sunlight is helpful.

  • Practices such as yoga and mindfulness may also be helpful.

  • Try to keep a balanced diet. Some foods are nutrient-rich in chemicals that affect mood disorders.

  • Make sure you sleep enough. Not too little, not too much.

  • Keep regular sleep-wake hours.

  • Keep good sleep hygiene.

  • Avoid large amounts of coffee and alcohol.

  • As soon as you wake up, shower and leave the house. Usually the morning, till you get going about your day, is hardest. Have a single-minded focus on achieving this.

  • If you are up to doing some voluntary work that gives your purpose, that is great.

  • If you are able to take care of a pet, its a good idea; pets have been shown to help in several conditions from depression to dementia.

Remember that after every dark night, dawn always comes.

Be kind to yourself. And patient with yourself.

And never, ever lose hope.


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