Removing the Stigma
Mental Health shhhhh. How do we remove the stigma? We start by talking about it.
The thing about mental health is it’s just like any other illness and you should treat it the way you would any other medical issue. Why is it so hard to talk about or come to terms with this? At the age of 21, my therapist recommended I take something for my depression. I refused. Afterall I was young and of course, my feelings can be extreme but that’s natural at that age. I told myself that’s not something I should take meds for, right? I mean that’s just a way to chicken out of whatever I’m going through.
Then let’s fast forward a few more years when life was throwing one thing after another at me and I was barely 24. Then finally the last straw broke and I couldn’t move, I mean emotionally. I could physically, which was luckier than some. I just couldn’t connect with anyone, get myself motivated, or actually to care about anything. If you’ve been there you know. And you know it’s really hard to explain it to someone who hasn’t been there. I remember asking a friend once “what’s your plan if you ever decide to check out?” My friend asked, “What do you mean? I don’t have a plan” And that right there folks is the difference. If you have never thought even a little, “I just can’t take anymore, this is my path out”, then our brains are wired differently.
Though depression was my diagnosis, there are so many other conditions that many people struggle with, anxiety, ADHD, Bipolar, Borderline Personality, etc. We have learned so much about mental health over the past couple of decades. Mental health issues can run in families. My mom was prescribed the drug they termed “mother’s little helper”, valium, back when she was experiencing symptoms similar to mine. So she never got the treatment she deserved and had constant emotional imbalances. Fortunately, I have good insurance and live in an area where there are mental health providers. I have gone to counseling most of my life and I really recommend it to anyone.
However, let’s not fool ourselves into believing everyone has access to the care they need. Even with access and a wonderful support network, I still struggle because life is not perfect. Every time I feel sad I have to check to see if it is warranted by the circumstances or if my depression is back. For too many people this is a painful and lonely struggle. We need to, as a community, come together and make sure everyone has the mental health care they need. But so much needs to be done including ensuring that everyone has access to comprehensive healthcare coverage and encouraging people to go into (and stay in) the mental health field by making sure they don’t carry the additional burden of crippling student debt.
There’s not much more I can say except if you experience mental health issues or love someone who does, I see you and I understand.