Today is World Mental Health Day, and after reading several articles featuring the devastatingly high numbers of those who suffer from depression and other forms of mental illness, and also reflecting on my own personal experiences, I have made a spur of the moment decision to write a blog post. Understandably, this is a more serious topic than my normal posts (there will be no wine jokes made), but I felt the need to utilize my new forum to talk about something important.
It’s funny to me that I am almost shaking while writing this post, anxious about making all my thoughts clear and doing the subject justice, uncomfortable discussing something so serious without the mask of jokes or cute pictures, scared of being judged. The first two things I can deal with, it is the third that hammers in the importance of writing about this topic in the first place, and of World Mental Health Day in general: I am scared of being judged for saying that I myself have struggled with mental illness, particularly depression.
I have dealt with depression for the better part of my life, and only just recently gotten to the point where I truly feel like the person I was meant to be. I know that I am not alone. Millions of people in the United States, and around the world, must live with some sort of depression, going to doctor after doctor, trying medication after medication, all while struggling to deal with its consequences and trying to live a “normal” life.
Unfortunately, mental illness will always exist. That is inevitable. However, I guess my hope in writing this post is to exert whatever miniscule influence I might have to ask that people put aside their judgement, open their minds, and create an environment that allows those dealing with it to seek help. There is such a strong stigma regarding mental illness today that I fear too many don’t seek help, their feelings of loneliness compounded by a world that seems like it would never understand.
I don’t speak from a soap box, I speak from my own experiences and those of close family and friends. I have seen the shame that people dealing with these problems can feel. I have seen the fear of someone finding out. I have felt how life-saving a comforting word, or an honest conversation, or even just a hug, can be.
I want to end this post with something I think everyone needs, regardless of if they are struggling with mental illness or not: hope. Because of patient and loving family, I have seen how much better things can get – I am now in a place I have waited to be my whole life, doing something I love. I know it will be a battle I will likely face for the rest of my life, but I feel more than ready to take it on. Thank you to everyone who has been there with me the whole way.
Let’s give everyone that same chance.
Someone who probably said it better than me: