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How I Battled My Mental Health Demons

Ask anyone, how they feel and most reply, “fine” or “well.” However, are we “fine” or “well” or even, ok? We are all living in a new world of heightened emotions, challenging traumas, and isolated loneliness. We know someone dealing with loss, aloneness, and desperation. Or, that someone is us. Cynicism prevails over optimism. Depression, anxiety, and suicide run rampant. Our vets are taking their lives at an alarming rate not to mention our retirees and youth. We have missed the mark on creating a quality of life worth living. We are in a mental help crisis.

Sun rising behind tree on foggy morning with colorful sky and fence on farm

How did this heaviness of life come about? Here is one emerging concept: since we can have anything we need to survive; our Neanderthal minds have become vacuous playgrounds of emptiness creating a mental space for destructive ideas. Many of us are turning to mind altering enhancements to get through the day, sometimes the moment. Self-medication is the go-to for numbing our instinctual minds by keeping them preoccupied and away from depression.

Our stressed thoughts are out of balance. Self-preservation is in our minds, not outside the cave. We are triggered by the most trivial things. We have forgotten how to be the water on a duck’s back and let stress roll right off.

What are the remedies? A simpler life? Yoga? Tai Chi? Gardening? Community? Or could it be right in front of our faces as we look into a mirror.

2023 found me at my lowest. Death of a mother and breakup of a girlfriend tossed me into survival mode. Depression from my past and anxiety from my fabricated future caused me to live rarely in the present. Numbing agents, self-medicating cocktails, rebounding emotional cushions, staying busy for the sake of not addressing my issues created every distraction possible. After loneliness and aloneness came depression and anxiety which lead to weight loss and insomnia. 

The mental help stigma erroneously signifies weakness, yet the only way to eradicate this virus is through talking about our pasts, working through your demons, unpacking our historical luggage, and purging the untrue stories we tell ourselves.

Coffee was the first to go. Sorry Starbucks. I threw myself into working on me and at first, I had to figure out what that meant. Working on myself?  I gave priority to “working in” over working out. Next to go was all self-medicating agents. Sobriety fills my bones. I woke up hangover-less. I did not recognize myself.  I could finish a sentence without stuttering. I remembered words that were just on the tip of my tongue yet never arrived. Sustainability through farming became a priority. I went through three therapists before I found the right one. Dr Ruth to the rescue.

Life became smaller. My farm became greener. Anxiety and depression went on vacation and when they visited, I let them freely go through me, wrenching up tears and sometimes anger. Yet, after, I was calmer and a bit lighter. Sobriety introduced me to me.

Banks Helfrich smiling as he leans against a tree in a peaceful forest with his hat off on a foggy morning

What has really changed? I battle my inebriated self every Friday around 5 pm. Waves of depression disguised as tears fill my eyes at the most unannounced times. My heart hurts when I smell homemade bread coming out of the oven. However, on the outside I fit better with the world around me and on the inside, well, you’ll have to ask next time you see me. 


Banks standing and smiling for a headshot in a suit with arms crossed

Banks Helfrich

Candidate for Florida House,
District 25

As a native Floridian, I love this state. As a resident of South Lake County, I love farming and teaching sustainability to this community. As a Candidate for State House, I love finding solutions to the issues of our time.

I'm With Banks!

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