TULSA – After several decades of dealing with her own anxiety and depression, one Tulsa woman is now helping others.
“I was about 10-years-old and couldn’t sleep, worrying about something that had happened,” Mary Call wrote in a recent blog post for the Mental Health Association Oklahoma and their campaign titled #iAMaPersonFirst.
“I was in my mid-30’s before the mental health community gave my anxiety a name. Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” Call wrote in her blog post.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, GAD affects around 6.8 million American adults. Twice as many woman as men are affected by GAD.
“But I didn’t know until much later how much it effected my life,” she said Wednesday.
Lack of energy and emotion, a sense of hopelessness were just a few of the roadblocks Call has faced over the years.
“I had anxiety about anyone finding out that I had anxiety,” she said.
But eventually as an adult, Call found help through therapy and a bit of medication. She also found a strong support system in her loving family.
Now she shares her story as she helps guide others facing the same fight she does.
“I think what we are trying to do at the mental health center is just do away with that stigma that keeps people from getting help,” she said.
Call leads a support group for individuals with anxiety that meets twice a month. The group meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30, inside the Mental Health Associations Oklahoma’s Tulsa offices.
From GAD to social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, phobias and panic disorders, the group welcomes people facing several forms of anxiety.
Call said for someone just beginning to look for help, coming to the support group can be a huge step.
“A common thread shared by the group members is the social anxiety that prevented them from coming to the group – some for as long as two years. Just coming to the group is a giant step toward healing,” she wrote in her blog entry titled This Is My Story.
Karin Price works as the coordinator of SunBridge Counseling in Tulsa, a part of the Mental Health Association Oklahoma. SunBridge helps individuals find the assistance, therapy and medical attention they need.
Price said they can find pro-bono counseling and assistance for low-income or uninsured individuals.
“Where do I go, what do I do?,” Price rhetorically asked. She said those are a couple of the common questions people ask when they are starting to look for help with depression.
“What we are hoping for is more individuals are contacting us earlier before their circumstances get so difficult that they’re at a mental state that is even unhealthier than if they would have called six months to a year earlier,” Price said.
Due to budget cuts, some mental health programs have closed or been scaled back in Oklahoma. Price said because of some services closing, SunBridge has seen an increase in people seeking help. Last year at this time, Price estimates SunBridge helped around 35 people each month. Now they’re helping 90 to 100 clients per month.
“Usually counseling is recommended to everyone. For some people that one-on-one counseling is really helpful, for other people they enjoy the support group,” Price said.
Whether someone looking for help turns to SunBridge or other resources, Price said after two weeks of a change in your emotions or actions, you should consider talking with a professional.
“Two weeks where things haven’t gone well, where you haven’t wanted to get out of bed, you have maybe had some suicidal thoughts, you’re finding yourself losing weight or gaining weight, not sleeping,” those are all reasons Price said to seek out help. “If you use to enjoy going out with your friends, or going to the park with your kids and none of that is pleasurable anymore and that has been going on for at least two weeks then it is time to seek help.”
Call hopes people fighting mental illnesses by themselves can feel more comfortable asking for help.
“I’m concerned that people have the wrong image about people that have mental illness,” she said. “It is important to me that people understand that a lot of people deal with this,”
More on living with depression can be found here.
More on living with anxiety can be found here.
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