I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the way the world celebrates the trivial and glosses over real issues. From time to time, I’ll share a funny cartoon or video to my timeline on Facebook and receive amused response. I add a photo of me at the beach and get lots of likes and comments. But when it comes to a serious issue? Silence.
I posted the following on World Semicolon Day:
Enjoy the memes, and make a #worldsemicolonday post to share resources and raise awareness if you know (or are) someone with a mental illness. And with 1 in 4 people experiencing mental illness at some point in their lives, chances are that you DO know at least one person. #endthestigma #mentalhealthawareness #1in4
The post included the list of resources that can be found along the side of my blog as well, and a couple of images that I will include at the end.
Only a few very close friends even reacted to the post. I saw no one in my entire friend list go on to make a World Semicolon Day post of their own. And that’s their choice… but at the same time, I’ve seen a lot of these people willing to post over less significant stuff, like “Happy Pancake Day, guess I’ll have to make pancakes lol,” and I just don’t understand why something important and potentially life-saving doesn’t merit a few seconds of attention for a similar post.
The situation reads to me that most people don’t care that people all around them are struggling silently on a daily basis. And I realize that in general it is ignorance not callousness leading to this carelessness, but it still hurts. I’d like to challenge people on social media that if they can invest a few seconds in changing the filter on their profile for some disaster or another (a move which has little actual benefit to the people they are supporting) then they ought to be able to invest the same to share resources and encouragement for the many people all around them who are fighting illnesses the world shames and ignores.
Why is it the suffering who are left alone to fight the battle of supporting each other?
A list of things that have changed since I got on a medication that was right for me:
- My sleep schedule is regularized and so much healthier. I go to bed and wake up almost the same time every day without developing high levels of anxiety at bedtime or being pinned to my bed in the morning by the futile weight of depression.
- The feeling of anticipation has returned. Weird as it may seem, anticipation is a big indicator for me of my mental health. When I’m depressed, everything on my list of events carries a similar bland, uninspiring flavor. Whether I needed to get to a boring lecture or I had planned on attending a Christmas party, my plans had the same lack of drive. Now, that sense of looking forward to something brings the impulse of excitement that most people would never expect could disappear.
- I can drive without having an anxiety attack, which is huge for me considering I had previously never been able to do enough practice driving to get my license.
- I developed my first celebrity crush–it may seem silly or unrelated, but realizing it hadn’t happened before suddenly showed me how my mind really hasn’t been functioning properly for years. I had started to believe the fun, fluttery, crush-y feelings of my very early adolescence were imaginary since they had been gone so long. (Before you ask… Matthew Gray Gubler’s character on Criminal Minds.)
- I’m not constantly battling intrusive and frightening thoughts, including suicidal ideation. It should never be normal to be forced to maintain an ongoing battle with your own mind in order to stay afloat and function, but for a while, it was my “normal.”
- I’ve recognized that some people who were in my life were toxic and emotionally abusive. Being mentally in a better place showed me that I did not deserve or warrant their treatment, and that it was okay to cut them out of my life.
- I have the energy and motivation to take other steps for promoting my health. For example, I’ve started learning martial arts and work out twice a week. The exercise is helpful for maintaining my health both mentally and physically, but I did not have the stamina or strength to get myself doing anything like that before getting on the right medication.
Because of the stigma against medication for mental illness, I fought against going on meds to help treat my depression for a long time. Now, however, I recognize and celebrate them for what they really are–an important weapon in the fight against mental illness that, for me, was an essential part of recovery.
“Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.”
A collection of stupid quotes by people spreading stigma against people with depression. Here’s to hoping that by posting these and declaring them to be ridiculous, these phrases lose a little bit of their power.
- “Why do you listen to your therapist [about how to treat your depression] more than me?” ~someone who is no longer my friend (and perhaps never was)
- “99% percent of people are taking antidepressants as substance abuse.” ~some idiot on Quora
- “Your problem is you need to stop thinking so negatively!” ~yet another clueless person of the internet
- “Why hasn’t [person with depression] apologized to me personally for being sick?” ~another person I won’t talk to after her treatment of one of my best friends who had depression
- “Depression isn’t real.” ~a moronic “Big Brother” contestant on Twitter
What things that people have said to you about your mental health would you put in your “Hall of Shame”?
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” ~Proverbs 26:11
Trouble, the beloved matriarch of my goat herd, passed away today at the age of twelve. After over a decade where she was part of the family, it’s hard to say goodbye.
I wish I could take the time to grieve. With two jobs, it feels like I have to always be focused on my work and being prepared for lessons, and if I step away from those thoughts even for a day, I feel like I will be lost and unprepared. She was important to me, even if no one around me knows or understands that.
Over the years, my goats knew more of my struggles than people did. I would go out with them and lean against their warm sides and cry even when I had no humans to turn to and talk to about what was going on. The goats don’t judge, or tell me it’s all in my head, or invalidate my feelings. They’re simply there, listening, and present.
People could learn a lot from goats.
September 30. Suicide Prevention Month is drawing to a close. Awareness campaigns are wrapping up. For most, the focus on suicide prevention is over for another year… if they ever really focused on it to begin with.
But for many, suicide prevention is not something that can be packed up at the end of a month, set aside for another year. For many, suicide prevention is a constant companion. We live with it, cherish it, cling to it.
I am in recovery. Yet even for me, suicide prevention is an ever-present concept. I know how important it is, how easily the wirings of my brain can misfire and turn against me. I know suicidal ideation is not simply a plague of the weak, but of anyone with the misfortune of being attacked by the body’s most complex organ, whose functionality we expect and rely on the most.
I will never be able to set aside my personal attention on suicide prevention at the end of an arbitrary division of time. This month of focus and awareness is ending, but please keep in mind that those around you who are suffering and fighting do not have the option to pack it away for another year. They need the support of those around them as much on the 1st of October as they do on the 30th of September.
Start conversations. Educate yourself on symptoms, warning signs, and resources. Reach out to your friends and family. Let the people around you know that you are a safe and non-judgmental listening ear and follow through on that promise.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, please seek help! You can text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 at any time for free and confidential help, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (273-8255).
The image above is currently at the top of my list of Things That Make My Blood Boil.
As you may have heard, a “Big Brother” contestant spewed forth a bunch of vile nonsense about depression recently on Twitter. It’s sad to see stigma promoted through the platform of fame, reinforcing people’s misconceptions. However, a lot of people stood up for mental health awareness in response, which was encouraging!
What is also sad is how many people in our everyday lives still think exactly what he said, people who don’t support our healing and recovery, who don’t understand and aren’t willing to learn. It’s honestly scary to realize how commonplace and accepted and normalized mental health discrimination is. I’ve met people who thought it was okay to harass, invalidate, isolate, and emotionally abuse others if they were mentally ill. This is NOT okay.
To those who don’t understand mental illness:
Don’t be like that guy. You can be part of the solution! When you find something you don’t understand, humility and willingness to listen and learn are a far better response than arrogance and ignorance. Especially when it comes to mental health–there is so much stigma already.
Five months ago, I was hospitalized. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t keep food down, and was experiencing extreme suicidal thoughts.
But today? Today I am halfway through my second week as a professional in my field. I am a college graduate, despite it all. I have my joy back. I love what I do. My faith in God is my guiding light. I discovered some true friends throughout it all who are still there for me, and I have a loving family supporting me as I move into the future.
Recovery is possible. Hope is real. ♥
I don’t understand how people I once considered friends could be so cruel during my mental illness, and yet still carry on with their lives as though they are good and blameless and never hurt anyone… how???