This weekend I took time for myself to just read and relax at a local arboretum. A few weeks ago I was hospitalized inpatient at Avera Behavioral Health for five days. I have been battling severe anxiety for years now. That, plus depression and several other factors brought me to the hospital.

It was a big moment for me. I haven’t stopped to breathe. To take care of myself. To see what’s causing me these anxious thoughts.

One of the nurses called it a “mind spa” and that’s exactly how I took it. It was five days unlike any other for me. I learned A LOT. From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to how the mind works.

It was also super challenging. I didn’t have my phone. I didn’t watch the news. I was completely unplugged. It turned out to be incredibly refreshing.

Our brains are a funny thing. How the imbalance of one chemical in our brain can cause such chaos in our life.

Everyday is still a challenge and I’m taking steps to grow from this experience. Treating your brain should be no different than your heart or pancreas. There is a very bizarre stigma attached to mental health that I myself can’t seem to get over sometimes.

It shouldn’t be that way. Getting the help you need is important. I didn’t listen to the warning signs. I just kept going 1,000 miles per hour and finally I broke.

I’m sharing my story in hopes that maybe someone suffering from depression or anxiety or any other mental health issue gets the help you need. I’m here to talk or just listen. It doesn’t make you weak (I’m not weak 💪🏼). Taking action only makes you stronger.

No matter what, take time for yourself to explore nature and relax. It’s well worth it!

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Michael Geheren

Michael Geheren is a digital content producer at NewsNation on WGN America.