The importance of building your own support team to maintain your mental health cannot be understated. This is what I would consider to be one of the prongs of a multi-pronged system one creates to support their own mental health. The support team may look different for different people.
Before I checked myself into a partial hospitalization program due to my major depression, I invited two of my best friends to my house. One of them knew that I had been suffering from depression and the other one had no idea. I sat down with them at my kitchen table and shared with them my plan to take time off from work and enter a rehab program for my depression. I asked for their help and support. They had no idea how to support me. In my state of mind, I had no idea what I needed either. I asked them to send me text messages now and then and to invite me out for coffee or some other activity to get me out of the house.
I had been sharing my depression all along with my wife, my sister, and my brother and knew that they were clearly people who I could trust and count on in times of support. I had at least one or two uncontrollable crying bouts with my siblings and many with my wife. They were understanding, compassionate, and supportive. I was lucky to have them all.
I made sure that I had a psychologist and a psychiatrist who I trust and can meet with at any time. I haven’t seen a therapist for over a year, but I still know that I have one whom I trust and could call at any time in order to schedule an appointment.
Finally, a couple of days prior to entering the program, I attended my first every support group. It was a group for men with depression and/or anxiety. I broke down and cried for most of my first two hours with these men, as I shared my story and my plan. They were a group with which I felt an immediate connection. I haven’t had to deal with depression for two years, yet I continue to meet with this group of men twice a month.
As I mentioned earlier, everybody’s support team is going to look different. Some people may rely on friends, mental health workers, and a religious leader. Others may rely on family, relatives, and a trusted neighbor. The point is to have people who you trust and can reach out to in times of need.
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