How’s Your Mental Health?

  • I know, I know. Not something you want to talk about. But, I think we should.

    In light of everything that has happened this past week, I wanted to reach out to you all and do a mental health check together.

    How are you feeling? Are you struggling in any way? Is there something on your mind that’s bothering you? Are you content? Happy? Bored?

    Let’s chat.

    I can start first.

    And it’s going to make me extremely vulnerable but I feel that if I open up, maybe many of you will too?

    Judgement-free zone, here. If you’re here to tear people down, then you should see your way out. Rising tides, y’all. We are more the same than we are different. We’re 100% human.

    Everyone, at some point or another, goes into a dark place. If not for a minute or two, everyone at some point goes there. The key is whether you come out of that dark place or not.

    I would say that for most my life I was pretty happy. Sure, I had regular teenaged moments. I hated my parents, I hated the world, yadda yadda.

    But going through the self-discovery phase of high school and college, I don’t recall ever being super down. I loved high school and college. I felt like the community at these places were a second family to me.

    It wasn’t until I turned thirty last year that things started to shift. I’m not sure I can correlate it with age 100% but I know I never really felt the way I did until recently.

    I want to say part of it is when I moved back to the town I grew up in, I started to get really nostalgic and in turn, I would find myself sitting on the couch sometimes just randomly crying. I would be really emotional and angry.

    I thought perhaps, instead of burdening my husband and my close friends with all these random thoughts I couldn’t dissect, I should seek professional help. I researched and began seeing a psychotherapist.

    It was terrifying. The whole week or so leading up to the appointment, I was thinking, “am I really doing this? I can’t tell people about this, they’ll think I’m crazy. Therapy is for crazy people. Am I crazy?”

    In fact, coming out on the other side of therapy, I feel that therapy is actually therapeutic and I feel that many others should take advantage, if their situation allows. <— That’s a whole ‘nother topic I’m not going to touch on too much. I’m just going to say that I feel health insurance in the United States should focus more on covering therapeutic means of helping someone instead of always drugging them at the first utter of, “I’m anxious,” or “I’m sad.” I feel that we all need to dig deep down before writing these ‘scripts. That’s just my personal thoughts on this. I don’t believe drugs are the answer to everything. Absolutely if someone needs it, by all means take them, but I don’t think that should always be the first thing to do.

    I digress.

    Individual therapy with my therapist was good. But I would say that group therapy for me was even better.

    I know what you’re thinking and it’s what I thought and it’s what my therapist told me everyone says when it’s first brought up to them. “HELL NO.”

    I’m really glad I gave it a shot.

    Every Tuesday night, there were six of us in the therapist’s office. We’d go around the room and do a check-in of everyone’s week and then the rest of the night is asking more questions about specific events that the person may or may not have gone through during the week, asking them to open up more about it, etc. It was kind of like a vent session but with strangers. And I think that’s the best part because even though they’re strangers, you have the most ways to relate because they know NOTHING about you and can’t judge you on anything. I mean, it’s a judgement-free zone anyway but you know what I mean by that. Like there is no pre-disposition or pre-conceived notion of who you are/were.

    It was really enriching and rejuvenating. To hear that I wasn’t alone and to get solid advice and to hear others struggling in the same but different light.

    We all struggle. We all have moments. No one can force someone to do something. But I urge you — if you’re feeling lost, disconnected, sad…please seek professional help. It doesn’t have to be paid. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and you can TALK to someone. Any time of the day. Any day of the week. YOU just have to do it.

    1-800-273-8255. Your lifeline is waiting on the other end of that phone. Please take it. There is so much left to live for. I promise.

    I know this is a difficult topic but the national suicide rate right now is too high and with two high-profile suicides this past week and the show 13 Reasons Why being out there…I just felt the need to say something and I know we all can relate — whether you believe it or not.

    To all my dearest readers, I just want you to know you aren’t alone. Reaching out for help is not shameful. I think society also needs to change its mindset on mental health. Just because someone is struggling doesn’t make them crazy or doesn’t make them ‘want to die.’ It’s their own journey and it’s probably them reaching out for help. Or maybe, they aren’t reaching out and if you see signs that they should seek professional help…by all means, PLEASE talk to them. You could very well save their life.

    Reaching out for help of any kind takes courage and bravery. Will you do that for me, please?

    Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett said it best: In the days, weeks and years ahead, let us remember to be kind to each other, listen to each other, support each other and as Anthony always did, break bread with each other. His curiosity and sense of community knew no bounds, and that torch must be carried forward.

    Love you all and thank you for allowing me to share my story and journey. Even as I’m hovering over the ‘publish’ button on this post, I’m filled with thoughts of, “are people going to treat me differently now? Are people going to judge me? Are people going to think they can’t be honest with me in fear of me going off the deep end? Am I going to lose friends? Is this embarrassing? Am I over-sharing? Should I even be sharing this?” I certainly hope the answer is ‘no’ to all these (except the last one, haha) and I hope this is a jumping pad for everyone to start the conversation.

    No one truly knows what one is going through unless you ask, talk, listen, and support.

    Big hugs and lots of love,
    Julie

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  • Julie says:

    Thank you for sharing Julie. I struggled off and on with depression when I was younger even attempted suicide at 15. As I’ve gotten older it’s mostly abated. Sure there are situation times when it creeps in but nothing like my best friend and my fiance who both took their own lives. And now a close friend of mine, who struggles with deep depression, has lost two of his idols (Scott Hutchison and Anthony Bourdain) to suicide and I know it’s affecting him hard. It’s so important that we talk to each other and do check-ins like this and have compassion for those that struggle. You never know when your kind words are going to mean another day for someone on this earth.

    • Julie says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about all this, Julie. It’s definitely so important to talk to each other and check-in. I’ve never done anything like this before but since taking back the reigns on my blog (in terms of what content I want to post), I figured why the heck not! I lost a best friend on the very last day of middle school. It was the saddest moment to learn that at such a young age and it was even sadder that I had just seen her the day before and we were talking about how awesome it was going to be to go to high school the following year. Sigh, you just truly never know what someone is going through.

  • Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Julie ❤

    • Julie says:

      Thanks Laura!

  • JulieD says:

    Hugs, Julie! Glad you found therapy helpful. I find it helpful for me too. People need to know they are ok and it’s ok to ask for help. ?

    • Julie says:

      Yes, the stigma with mental health needs to end.

  • A says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! The 2 devastating events of this week have left me extremely heartbroken. I’ve suffered from depression & anxiety since 12. I tried to end my life in my teens and was unsuccessful. I never told anyone I was depressed until in my middle 20s. Although I’m shy & an introvert I do happen to have a bubbly personality therefore it never crosses anyone’s mind that something is wrong with me. In my middle 30s was when I had the courage to ask for help & finally went to therapy. I didn’t seek help before because I was afraid to be labeled as an unfit mother & afraid for my children to be taken from me. Therapy was great until I moved; finding a therapist in my new area is like trying to find a unicorn. I hide my true feelings daily, some days are darker than others. Honestly suicide crosses my mind often. Sorry to be so raw & thank you for opening this space.

    • Julie says:

      Hey there, I believe the stigma of mental health needs to end. There shouldn’t be labels for anyone seeking help to better themselves. I urge you to keep looking for a therapist. Is there an online option for the one that you used to go to? Or even like a phone call option? I know it’s different than in person but if you’re having trouble finding one in your new town; maybe you can reach out to your old therapist. Your primary care doctor may have recommendations too. If suicide crosses your mind often, please don’t take the situation lightly. It’s a dark place to be but I assure you that there is so much life to live. You’re only in your mid 30’s — there’s so much left to look forward to. Your children and family would miss you so much and you don’t want to miss out on their milestones. Anyway, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a community or a group or even the hotline when you feel down. I hope you find the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m rooting for you and proud of you for talking about this.

  • Krysten Gossard says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing this. It is when we all admit that life can difficult and we all struggle. It makes us human and there is help. I whole heartedly believe in therapy . For the longest time I walked through life thinking the answer was to “get over it.” It wasn’t until I really took stock of how “heavy” I felt at times that I sought help. It’s like a weight has lifted. I also agree on the turning 30 thing . I have some theories on it . I think In our younger years we are often just too preoccupied to have time to sit with our feelings. It isn’t until we have those first moments after getting adult life at somewhat of a set point to really take inventory of of everything we’ve been through. For me personally it was also facing major life decisions like kids and career that brought on a lot of anxiety. With help I am finally okay with me … and making peace with a lot of stuff that felt burdensome. I applaud you for bringing light to this issue and for creating a such a safe space. The world needs more people like you my friend and I am so happy I met you. Can’t wait to catch up in person. <3

    • Julie says:

      I think that’s the problem; the stigma that mental health automatically means you’re crazy and you’ve got “issues.” I think we’re all in a different day and age now and mental health is no longer something to hide. You can’t be helped unless you seek it or want help or are open to it. Applaud you for going to therapy. It’s very refreshing and enlightening. It really helps open up the mind and help you think through things methodically. I must agree with you about the feelings thing when you’re younger; you just had so much other stuff to do that you weren’t at home sitting around. Maybe this is just a calling that even in our 30s we should go out and do more things? If only traffic didn’t suck so much, LOL – anyway, thanks for writing and I’m so happy we “met” each other too in this crazy online world! xoxo

  • Pam says:

    I think that taking the initiative and having the courage to come out and discuss how you were or are feeling is a good thing…We ALL go through times
    where we feel sad. or where we may question our negative feelings…The important thing is to share, open up and work through the feelings, knowing that they are normal, human, and part of life… It is when these feelings become overwhelming and oppressive and you feel you cannot function properly anymore that help must be sought.. The stigma surrounding mental health issues must be done away with… the first step is to open up… kudos to you!

    • Julie says:

      Yes, the stigma is what makes people hide away their feelings and their call for help. I hope that we keep drawing awareness to mental health and not label it as a negative thing. Thanks for writing!

  • Danielle says:

    It took so much courage for you to share your story. I can’t thank you enough. For most of my life I’ve been pretty happy (making my own happiness), but last year was a very dark year for me. I was two years removed from the end of a decade long relationship, and the death of my father. I dealt with it well at the time (or so I thought). It all came crashing down last year. I’m happy to say I have many more good days than bad now. I know your story will be an encouragement for myself and others. Thank you for sharing.

    • Julie says:

      Thanks for sharing, Danielle. I’m glad to hear you have more good days than bad now. Don’t ever be afraid to talk it out. I hope you continue to have many good days!

  • Bob Britton says:

    Thank you, Julie for being vulnerable and talking about mental health. It is still a taboo that we hide. We need to share how we are feeling when we are depressed. We need to talk about personality disorders. We need to seek treatment when needed. We’ll find out we’re not alone.

    • Julie says:

      100% agree. Thanks Bob!

  • Lynette says:

    Thank your sharing. We all live day to day with smiles on our face and yet no one truly knows deep down inside, how much we are in much pain and sadness.
    I thank God every day I am able to make through another day.
    BTW, I do look forward to your Blog and your great recipes!
    Respectfully…

    • Julie says:

      Thanks so much! It is so true we just never truly know behind closed doors what someone is going through.

  • My says:

    I lost my oldest brother to suicide 7 years ago and every time I hear of a suicide, whether it be on the news or a friend of a friend’s friend, which is a lot lately, I get this pang of grief all over again. Yes, we truly never know what is going on within a person and sometimes it just takes a moment’s snap for them to make that decision. So just be kind to people, it make make that moment go away.

    I’ve contemplated on going to therapy for the grief, but then I talk myself out of it by telling myself this grief is something that can never be handled, just numbed. Opening up about your therapy experience was very brave, I have the same feelings you had before going. Maybe I can someday take that step finally.

    My brother never talked to any of us about his dark feelings, he was probably ashamed, embarrassed, too tough. He was making plans for his future, even brought his lunch to work that very day to never eat it. For anyone that has these dark thoughts, all I ask is that you think about your loved ones. It leaves a hole in us that can never can be filled with anything but the question “why”.

    Thanks for being another encouraging voice Julie.

    • Julie says:

      Oh I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. May you eventually find peace and I really hope you go to therapy to talk it out. It is like a burden lifted. Best of luck to you and please consider therapy at some point. It’s very helpful but, of course, at your own time. Take care <3

  • Shannon says:

    I work in the mental health field and also have my own diagnosis of anxiety/depression (therapy made all the different). The MORE WE TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH OPENLY the BETTER! The less secretive it is and the more mainstream it will be to take care of our psyche exactly as we would any other injury. Thank you for sharing! Thank you for opening the dialogue to your platform!

    • Julie says:

      Absolutely!! Thank you!!

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am learning to deal with extreme anxiety and panic as part of the side effects of my cancer medication. A few months ago, I finally had enough and made an appointment to talk with a counselor, and I’m so glad that I did. I may still have another 2 and a half years of treatment, but I now have coping mechanisms to get me through it.

    • Julie says:

      That is so wonderful to hear, Michelle. So sorry about your diagnosis but I am so happy to hear that you seeked a counselor and have someone to talk to.

  • vivian says:

    You worried that people would think differently of you if you published this. Well, in my case, and I’m sure many others’, you are right. I think that you are brave and strong, and are truly using your access to your readers for a great good thing. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I’m sure it will be helpful to many of your readers.

    • Julie says:

      Aww thank you so much for your kind message. This means a lot.

  • Barbi says:

    The difficulty occurs when it’s a complete dead end – when there is nothing that can be done to change the circumstances.

  • Barbi says:

    My father had early onset Alzheimer’s. Seventeen years. I will never forget my hyper-religious next door neighbor telling me that my father had the condition because he was “cursed by God”.

    • Julie says:

      Wow, that’s ridiculous.

  • JenJ says:

    Thanks for sharing. It has been a rough week. Shoot it seems like longer. I’ve always had what I would say are not so pleasant thoughts. I’ve always felt like I was mistake or I’m not supposed to be here. Have I every talked to someone about it? Nope. Do I need to? Probably. Maybe I will at some point. I do have moments where I will kinda go “ghost” and withdraw from people and things. But thankful I do have friends/family who do reach out when I get like this and I do appreciate it.

    • Julie says:

      You gotta do what feels right to you but don’t be afraid to seek help!

  • Jessica says:

    Kudos to you for having the strength and thoughtfulness to dedicate a post to this.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you so much

  • Peg says:

    Hurrah, Julie, for your courage! People who are depressed don’t speak out, because they don’t want to burden the loved ones in their life. You’re speaking out reminds us that there are people that love us and want to hear from us. Thank you.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you so much. You’re so right ?

  • Sara says:

    I just want to apologize for saying something about the advertisements on your blog. I feel terrible about it. I was having a bad day. I had tried to watch TV and there were so many commercials I forgot what I was watching! So I got on my iPad and checked your blog and saw all the flashing dentist ads and well…I got upset. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. All the blogs are like that now and I just need to get use to it. It’s not your fault. If I had a blog I would want people to pay me for ads. You have a lovely blog and wonderful recipes. I am sorry if I upset you. :(

    • Julie says:

      Thanks, you didn’t upset me at all. You gave your opinion on something and I told you exactly why I have ads. Nothing to be upset over. Thanks for apologizing though but truly, it’s okay! Appreciate you!

  • Sara says:

    Thank you for this heartfelt post; beautifully said. Sending big hugs to you. Yes, everyone falls into that dark place now and again. We do need to pay attention and reach out to those in need.

    Thank you for sharing…

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