Mental Health Awareness

Is it me or does life seem crazy lately? Is life crazy or is the world crazy? Are we all going mad?

This is a wild time to be alive. I wonder if people said that 30 years ago? 50 years? I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend. Thinking about the current state of the world, thinking about how much I need a new job, thinking about my generation and thinking about Chris Cornell’s suicide. 

Chris’s wife made a statement indicating that she thought his suicide was brought on by the anxiety medication he had been taking. Apparently Chris, like many of us, suffered with anxiety and depression. People who don’t suffer may think “why would someone who has it all want to take his own life?”. Chris Cornell was the frontman of a few successful bands, he had a wife, children, and probably everything he’s ever wanted. So why would he take his life?

Anxiety and depression do not discriminate. You can have it all and be surrounded with so much love and yet you still feel hollow, like something is missing. So what do you do? Hide it from those you love that love you. Put your smile on everyday and keep on going. You don’t want to let anyone down. You don’t want to let yourself down. You don’t want these horrible mental illnesses to get the best of you. So maybe you take medication.

As someone who has taken anti anxiety and depression meds, I can tell you they didn’t do much for me in terms of relieving me from anxiety or depression. Instead I received the side effects: upset stomach, weight loss, increased energy. Luckily, I didn’t get the suicidal thoughts or tendencies side effect. Perhaps Chris Cornell did. It’s a side effect of almost all of those medications, afterall.

People think that those who commit suicide are copping out – they’re not strong. They have no will power. If you have lived with anxiety or depression it is horrible. There’s no escaping it. Its like walking around with a plastic bag over your head, unable to breath but through a tiny pin hole in the bag. Your self worth tanks. You feel helpless and hopeless. You feel like a failure. The thought of not feeling the anxiety and depression that breaks you down everyday is euphoric. Some people get relief through medication, yoga, mediatation, therapy. Others suffer no matter what they try. I know how that feels because I have yet to find what works for me.

While I’ve never debated suicide, I’ve thought about what it would feel like to not have to be tortured by this everyday. If Chris’s medication is responsible for his suicide, how horrible that the very thing that he took to try and be better ended his life? What can we do different? I think we need to start with one thing: ending the stigma around mental illness.

Millions of people suffer with mental illness world wide. Many of us live among you everyday. We work, we own homes, we have families. We suffer in silence because we are afraid of being judged. We don’t want to be told what we can’t do. We don’t want to be treated differently. 

I may have OCD, GAD and depression and I may be a productive member of society but what if I couldn’t be? What if my mental illnesses didn’t allow me to walk among the people who didn’t have a mental illness and go undetected? Maybe I won’t always be able to.

If you are suffering in silence please talk to someone. There is help out there. You can do it without anyone knowing. You are worth it. The world needs you.

Let’s end the stigma ✊️.

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Another perspective…

This week an old friend and a person related to someone in my family commuted suicide. Both of them suffered  from mental illness. 

My heart hurts. I’ve been there. When the anxiety is debilitating. Can’t leave the house. Physically feel like shit. Disappointing those you love. No end in sight. When you’re suffering in the peak of a panic attack and you feel like you can’t live this way for another minute. Another second. You would do anything to end the suffering. The pain. 

Then a few minutes goes by. Your chest begins to loosen. Your breathing begins to slow. You can’t hear your heart pounding in your ears anymore. Your vision begins to steady. Your stomach settles down. Things are starting to look up, right?

For now. Here’s the thing about having a legitimate mental illness: the suffering doesn’t end. There will be another panic attack. Another episode of depression. That’s guaranteed. 

My guess is that these individuals ended it during the peak of an anxious moment, a panic attack or episode of depression. Before they gave it time to get better. I can’t say I agree with it, but I do understand it. And it makes my heart hurt. 

What makes my heart hurt even more is that no one knew the extent of their suffering. On the outside they had lots of friends, were successful, seemed to be living the life they wanted with a smile. Why didn’t anyone have any idea? Because of the stigma around mental illness. They didn’t want to be labeled. Didn’t want to be judged. Didn’t want to burden anyone else with their issues. These were great people and because our society is so quick to judge we are without these people. And many others.

I am one of those people. On the outside I look like I have it all. I take care of myself, I have a great job, a wonderful husband and everything I want. Most people don’t know that I dread mornings. Why? Because I have to fight to make it through another day. Hide the debilitating anxiety. Maintain the facade. My close family knows that I struggle, but how much easier would my life be if I could decline a meeting because I’m too anxious? Work from home because I’m having a bad anxiety day? Cut myself some slack and not clean the house, go grocery shopping and do laundry each Saturday because Sunday is too late in the weekend? But I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want to be treated like an invalid. 

Why can’t I tell you that I suffer from GAD, OCD and depression and have you treat me like I don’t belong in the looney bin?

I am a functional, contributing member of society. Don’t judge me. 

END THE STIGMA.  

RIP Joey and Scott. 💔