Use your blog to get out of the gulf

In the 30 years we’ve been in business, we’ve hired more than 50 people.

I used to keep track of how many of their names, including mine, ended in “a.” Could this interest, along with other useless mental collections, be a sign of a very mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Does mental health vary in the same way that physical health does? A sniffle, a cold, a nasty cold, a shocking cold, the flu, a terrible flu, the flu that kills you, pneumonia, bronchial pneumonia, and… well, you get the idea.

Getting rid of things
If my behavior and thoughts are sometimes a little OCD, it’s understandable that you don’t notice. But I still have to step over lines in the sidewalk, jump onto the sidewalk at least two steps before a car passes by in the distance, touch wood quickly whenever I have a bad thought, and put my fingers in my ears when someone talks about plane crashes. Normal? OCD? Anxiety?

Mental health has to do with how well the brain works. Even when the brain is messing with it, health is about everything else in the body. Or that’s how I want to understand it, even if the language police might say something different.

We worked for a well-known mental health center for a long time. Everyone tried hard to avoid what they thought was demeaning language, which made meetings really hard. One word was in trouble. That was the worst thing you could do.

Really? I suffer when I have a panic attack or a bout of depression. My family does, too. Even if these things happen only occasionally and for a short time, they can have terrible effects.

My world is thrown into a very dark place for that time. Fear’s sister, anxiety, and its physical symptoms—bands around my head that feel like vices, a tight throat, and creatures moving around in my stomach—make me feel like I can’t breathe. I want to get away, but I feel like there’s no way out.

I feel a lot of sympathy for the people who have to deal with these problems every day.

So, you could say that the depression or panic attacks I “suffer” from are like having a short-term illness. They don’t last long and don’t cause permanent damage, but they make me less useful at work than when I’m healthy.

Once, a friend told me in a blunt way, “You don’t have depression. “If I gave you $250,000, you’d stop being sad right away.” It made me think, but I didn’t always agree.

Every fifth
During the years we were in business, many of our employees had problems with their mental health. Two of them had bipolar disorder, two had depression, two, and I think four, had severe anxiety, two had mild OCD, and they all used drugs and alcohol a lot.

My husband came up with a saying about mental health: “One in five has a mental illness, and five in five can help.” In our experience, this was true.

We didn’t make a difference between a worker with the flu and a worker with depression because we thought that’s how it should be in all workplaces.

Bad mood or depression, cold or flu?
We did expect people with colds to be a little tough, and we often thought about how some people would act like they had the flu when they just had a cold. Also, a bad mood didn’t need to be treated the same way as an anxiety attack.

Knowing and recognizing the signs that your mental health isn’t at its best is helpful, especially for those close to you when the problem is mild.

Obviously, if someone’s mental health is very bad, they need care and treatment, just like someone with a physical illness or disease. I’ve often wondered if a diagnosis of diabetes or bipolar disorder should make us act in a different way.

As a business owner with no employees, I only have to worry about my own mental health. Do I have a list of ideas for how to do that for you? No. It would be rude to try to tell someone else how to keep their brain healthy.

I know that working out, meditating, eating well, and getting enough sleep are good ways to keep my mind healthy, but they don’t help much when my brain changes its pattern, stamps on its endorphins, and makes me sick.

Blogging helps
I can say that it makes it easier for me to write. I know that writing in a journal is sometimes suggested as a way to treat mental illness because writing is known to be healing. So maybe we can get out of the gulf by blogging. I’d like to add that to the long list of good things about blogging that already exists.