My mental health care kit includes three things that help me keep my depression and anxiety in check. It took a while to realize I needed all three things to help keep me healthy an whole, but I’m so glad I found a combination that works for me!
The first part of my mental health care kit came into play in 2003 when I started off with just medication. It was my first year away at college (2,000 miles away from where I grew up) and the depression and anxiety I’d been dealing with for years finally caught up with me. After gathering up some courage, I made an appointment with my college’s med center. One 30 minute appointment later and I was given a prescription for Prozac Weekly. Looking back on that, I now realize I was essentially told to “pop a pill” and get on with my life. There was no suggestion of talk therapy or exercise, and I, unfortunately, wasn’t given any resources to help deal with my depression. I was pretty much left to my own resources.
For a while, the medication worked; until it didn’t anymore. The point it stopped working was in 2011 when I had a mental breakdown. That breakdown led me to check myself into Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services mental hospital for a week. It was there I got my meds adjusted AND was properly introduced to resources like talk therapy. Ever since my stay at Pine Rest, I make sure to have regular visits with my therapist. There are times where I don’t go for a couple of months, but when things start feeling off-kilter for me, I’ll go on a weekly basis to talk through what’s going on in my head.
It was right around that same time that I picked up running. Now, I had been a “runner” before, but it wasn’t super regular, at all. I literally had ONE pair of hot pink running shoes from Target that I’d occasionally lace up. A day or so after being released from Pine Rest, I was laying in my bed and staring at the ceiling when I noticed those stupid pink shoes out of the corner of my eye. On a whim, I put them on and just went out for a short walk. The day after that, the walk got a little longer and the day after that I started jogging. Eventually, I started to notice that the more I got out and ran, the more I started feeling better mentally. There really was value to this “running for your mental health thing“. I literally have not stopped running for my mental health since!
Find what works for you
I talk about all of this because managing a mental health condition is different for everyone. For one person medication may be more than enough to keep depression at bay. For another, running can be the key. Me personally? I know I need the three components of medication, therapy, and running to help and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re ever in need of some motivation to keep running through those bad days, I hope you’ll join the super supportive Still I Run community. We’re all like-minded individuals that are raw, honest, and empathetic and we’ll help lift you up if you need it.