My Mental Health Story
After every tragedy the first thing people start talking about is how things could have been prevented. What we could have done. After a hurricane we’ll talk about FEMA and rebuilding. After a shooting we’ll talk about gun control and mental health. Unfortunately with each passing day after a tragedy we start to talk less and less. The issues that were so important to us right after soon start to fall to the wayside.
It’s now been a month since the Sandy Hook Shootings. I don’t have the answers on how it could have been prevented or what we could have done to lessen the impact. Gun Control, bullet proof doors and stronger locks, arm guards, or arming the teachers. Who knows. All I know is that getting help is hard. It’s embarrassing and looked down on. Before my parents really understood mental health I remember them telling me to just clean my room and I’d feel better. I can tell you now that the solution to depression is not cleaning. At least not for me.
I want to share my story with you because I don’t think we talk enough as a society. We judge each other and whisper and point when people are different. We are made to feel shamed when we go through something like having a mental illness or divorce or just a hard time. With social media we feel compelled to have perfect lives and so we only share the perfect moments. People who are different are made to feel bad. If you are a virgin, overweight, underweight, depressed, too happy, a young mom, a single dad, poor, stupid, LGBTQ, someone with a disability, someone who isn’t considered “attractive” by society standards, or any other difference that is hard to swallow or is not like the accepted normal [whether that actually is normal or not is another issue.] than you are made to feel less than by others.
So here I sit. Ready to open up to you about my own mental health to say, you are not alone. I want to help stop tragedies by letting you know it’s okay to talk to someone. It’s okay to want to make yourself better. It’s okay to ask for help. I suffer from depression. I straddle the line on whether I have a personality disorder or not. I have anxiety to the point that social interactions are difficult for me. I’ve been hospitalized twice to protect myself from self-harm. When I was younger I would self-mutilate because I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings I was having. I don’t want or need pity. I want people to be okay with who they are. I need you to accept me for who I am and accept others for who they are.
Not being “normal” is a challenge. I remember the first time I was hospitalized. I told my friends that I had a panic attack and had to go to the hospital for anxiety. It was safer and easier than saying, I have depression and wanted to kill myself. While I was too embarrassed to open up to my friends, I’m at least grateful that I was able to reach out for help. But I am one of the lucky ones. I have pretty decent access to mental health care. If I need a therapist, I can easily get an appointment. While I am currently not on any prescriptions I know that if I needed them, I could get access to ones that would help me cope with my depression and anxiety. I can get the help I need, when I need it. I’m one of the lucky ones. You might not be as lucky as I am in terms of getting medical help but you are still lucky. You have people like me that have been through similar situations that are more than willing to at least be there for you and let you know you are not alone. You don’t have to suffer alone anymore. At the very least you have the suicide hotline. A resource that I have used on occasion. Not just when I felt like dying but also at times when I just needed someone, anyone, to talk to and to hear my cries for help.
I don’t know if standing here showing all of my battle scars will make a difference or not but I hope that it just goes to show that everyone is suffering from something and that you don’t have to feel ashamed for that. You are not a second class citizen or less of a person. You are a person. With faults and differences just like all the rest of us.
And you are not alone.