'Tis the Season for Continuing to Take Care of Your Mental Health

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This is a PSA for folks dealing with mental illness, 'Tis the season for mental flare-ups, so take your freaking medicine!

I HATE this time of year because I know it is that predictable season (SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder) that hits folks with mental illness as harshly and communally as people getting the flu during flu season. Unlike the flu, which has PSA's everywhere reminding people to "get a flu shot", there aren't similar messages about "take your medication” because it is SAD season.

So, my plea is this, please take your medicine if you are mentally ill. 


My major diagnosis is medical C-PTSD (Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as complex trauma disorder). I can usually self-regulate my symptoms with the tools (which include medicine) I have received from my doctor, but I am currently struggling. A weird symptom of PTSD is an unregulated sense of urgency. This is more commonly referred to as hypervigilance. It is the "fight or flight" hormone, but when it is activated in folks with PTSD (which releases an incredibly high dose of cortisone) it can't be turned off easily. Basically, my body is telling me and reacting like there is a bear around every corner coming to get me!

When my PTSD is flaring, I literally can't tell the difference in importance between returning a phone call to a friend and returning a phone call to my child's school because they are sick.  Both calls register, in my body and brain, as equally urgent. It’s not just phone calls; everything in my life comes up as a potentially life-threatening event!

Therapy can help but doesn't stop the symptoms.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) helps but doesn't stop the symptoms.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy helps but doesn't stop the symptoms.

All the above help me to understand what is happening but none of them stop my biological response (fight or flight) to the stimuli in my environment. The ONLY thing that stops this is medicine. So, I urge everyone to take their freaking medicine. It is important to do all the other therapy strategies, but sometimes, like me, your mental illness is biological and needs a chemical response (medicine.) This time of year can even become deadly for those of us dealing with mental illnesses. So, it is important to possess the necessary knowledge that indicates we are ill and need to take care of our illness with doctors/health providers.

I love my momma, but she can't stop my PTSD flares.
I love my husband, but he can't stop my PTSD flares.
I love the Lord, but praying alone, can't stop my PTSD flares.
I love the idea of sage burnings, daily meditations, and positive affirmations that Oprah talks about but none of those can stop my PTSD flares.

You know what does stop my PTSD hypervigilance flares?  My medication. So, please take care of yourself, my fellow mentally ill people, by doing what actually works to make you feel better and not what you wish would make you feel better.

Your life depends on it.

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ShaRhonda Knott Dawson is the mother of two free-spirited, strong-willed girls and has a husband who should be appointed a saint for co-existing in the madness that is their life. She writes on politics, education, current events and social justice. She is also a taco enthusiast, a proud member of the Bey-hive, and truly believes that she will be receiving her letter from Hogwarts any day now.