By: Suad Othman //
If you were to ask me about my culture’s views on therapy you would quickly realize they do not match the views of today’s society. In fact, it’s quite different from the supportive and careful attention taken when the word “depression” is brought up in a conversation. Nowadays in America, mental health is handled with a certain amount of care which has been accompanied by careful analysis of symptoms followed by a remedy of prescriptions. Howe in other countries due to generational standards, happiness was defined by there not being a war or having food on the table. Many people didn’t have the time to think about if they were happy or if they might have this allusive condition called depression. Like many others growing up as first-generation American’s, the idea of therapy for a young girl was confusing for my family. They didn’t understand how much I needed it until I started to exhibit changes in my personality inhibiting me from letting go of past trauma.
In a more general sense, I’m an advocate for mental health because I too have been affected one way or another by what takes place when you forget to incorporate self-care into your routine. My past battles with the actual health of my body has had a strong and long-lasting effect on my mental health. When I was 16 years old I was diagnosed with migraines. This diagnosis took a toll on my body and the health of my mind. I was prescribed various prescriptions for the daily migraines I was having and at the time they made my migraines worse.
Fun fact, I was actually one of the first people in the United States to receive Botox for migraines, I was 17 years old. The doctor administering the Botox told me not only would I be one of the first people to receive this treatment but the first who was underage. I remember thinking I might not ever be healed from this. You see, migraines are not just a regular headache. They affect your entire body and this constant pain I was having every single day was deteriorating my personality.
I became very angry. Angry at the fact that I had to miss so many days from high school that I was in jeopardy of graduating and angry at the fact that no one understood the pain I had to experience every day. I became very depressed and that once happy carefree little girl became an adult very quickly. I learned how to lie and put on a brave face for the people around me constantly making do for the past time I lost with them and constantly reassuring them that I was fine when in actuality I wasn’t.
“You can do anything if you have your health.”
To this day I still get migraines but not as often, I’ve found a routine treatment that works for me and this includes self-care. I advocate for my mental health by taking care of the one thing that allows me to work so hard, my mind. I take breaks when I need to, I try to eat healthy, but most importantly my self-care takes place in the deepest parts of my soul reminding myself that the way I speak internally has a major consequence to what I put out into the world. I talk to myself lovingly, telling myself daily I’ve done my best, using my words carefully as to not incorporate negative self-talk. I speak internally to myself the way my mother would to me. It’s crucial for me and others to show grace, give yourself the grace you would another person. “Love thy neighbor” only works if you love yourself. I need to show myself the grace that I give others in order to maintain some kind of stability in my own mental health journey.
If you’re experiencing any kind of battle internally, I would encourage you to get help because life can change. The only way it’s going to stay the same is if you don’t help yourself. Don’t be too proud, show yourself the grace you so desperately need and love yourself enough to get whatever help is appropriate. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, but I promise you it’ll be worth it. Lastly, work hard at maintaining stability in your life. Like my mother always said, “You can do anything if you have your health.”