I just realized that it is almost the end of Mental Health Awareness Week and I have not written a post. How could I, a person with Mental Illnesses, not blog for this?! Crazy! I was sitting here thinking what would be the best topic for this special week…
I’ve decided to discuss the stigma and how I too have believed in it.
I was diagnosed with Depression for the first time at age 14. This was way back in the 90s. It was taboo to discuss any illness that occurred in your head within my family at that point. Because of this, the ill teenager (myself), hid therapies from her friends. I didn’t want anyone to know. You didn’t want to be considered “crazy” or “disturbed”. People at that point would jump to conclusions that you talked to yourself or banged your head against walls.
And then at 18, I sat with a case cutter hovered above my wrist. God forbid you mentioned the word suicide and then you were deemed selfish. How could one take their life… didn’t they know they were just thinking of themselves. Don’t they know how much their parents, siblings, friends will miss them and how much heartache they would cause? I believed it too even though I was the one living it. After this incident, I blamed myself. I felt ashamed. I didn’t tell anyone for years.
My most recent struggle with the feeding of the Mental Health stigma has to do with medication. As a strong-willed woman, I hate being dependent on pills. I assume I will get better and will go off of them. I have every time before. This time, I will not be. It took me a few months to become comfortable with being on 1 of my antidepressants for the rest of my life. After coming to that realization, I was then blindsided with PTSD over losing my foster son last winter, losing myself, and losing my dream of more than 1 child. With the PTSD diagnosis came more medication. For me, with the addition of another medication, the stigma I had returned. It has taken the last few weeks for me to understand that I am sick. I have an illness just like others with Diabetes, MS, Cancer. Like those with physical illnesses that rely on meds, I rely on them too and should not be ashamed to take them. They allow me to function. I should not be ostracized because my brain functions differently. I should not be looked at in fear that I may cause a mass shooting. I should not have to question if my illnesses affect my parenting.
No one should.
Stop the Stigma.