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Are you still living in your past? Do you constantly put yourself down? Are you a people pleaser? Are you afraid to seek therapy and learn new coping mechanisms? If yes, you deserve mental freedom! in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, I spent some time alone and reflected on my journey to healing. There came a time in my life that I stopped trying to please everyone, putting myself down, overthinking about everything, fearing change for the better, and living in the past. Throughout my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, I suffered overwhelmingly from anxiety and depression, mostly due to the many traumatic hardships I encountered in my life. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted everyone to view me as perfect. I felt trapped. Oh but looking back now, I see how much I’ve grown and what a journey! When I was in college, one of my closest friends, gifted me the book “Acts of Faith” by bestselling author Iyanla Vanzant. I started reading this book each day in addition to attending therapy. Believe me, this inspirational book (plus a few others I read) and the therapeutic sessions helped me for over a span of 20 years. 

Mental health is just as important as physical health. It is so important to attend to your mind. There is an increased need for understanding of, empathy for and respect for people challenged with mental health issues. Many people facing mental health issues oftentimes feel isolated and may have no support. Ladies and gentlemen, depression is a real illness and the MOST common mental disorder. Psychologist, Dr. Craig K. Polite, once said “Depression is anger that you turn yourself.” I completely agree with Dr. Polite. Depression is beyond sadness. People with depression may experience suicidal thoughts or death, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, ANGER, significant weight gain or loss, feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, lack of sleep or excessive sleeping, lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 17 million adult Americans suffer from depression. But it is treatable with a combination of therapy and antidepressant medications. Exercise and improving can also aid in treatment of depression. Jogging, walking, running, resistance training, dance and other forms of movement have both physical and mental health benefits. 

As a disclaimer, I am not a Psychiatrist. I am an Emergency Physician who evaluates patients that are facing possible mental health crisis during my shifts at the Emergency Department. Not everyone that visits my Emergency Department (ED) has a physical complaint. There are many who visit the ED because they are feeling sad, anxious, depressed and/or suicidal. They are seeking help. And there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe you have a loved one who’s been struggling with depression. I encourage you to talk with that person about looking into treatment options. Or perhaps you are struggling with depression and it may be time for you to take a step toward getting help. Have you thought about seeking treatment, but is afraid to do so? Don’t be afraid. Why not reach out right now? It is so important for to stand up to the very thing that challenges us along with a great support system. Talk to a healthcare professional that you trust if you or your loved one needs help with depression.