Anxiety. Depression. Bi-polar. Grieving. Anger. Stress. Psychosis. Anorexia. Bulimia. PTSD. Mental illness comes in many shapes and sizes and colors. It can easily camouflage itself from those it affects and from those who surround the affected. Diagnosis can be difficult, especially if those who need the help aren’t seeking it. Perhaps they don’t feel it’ll work. Perhaps they don’t believe they need it.
For a little while I was believing the world was getting past the stigma of mental illness. There is a fear of being weak. A fear of appearing crazy. Or psycho. There’s a fear of not being normal, whatever normal may be. However, I’ve come to discover there are still those out there battling, struggling without seeking the proper support for these exact reasons. The stigma and silence needs to be broken.
If you break your ankle, what’s the first thing you do? Go to the hospital for x-rays and they put a cast or a boot on it, give you crutches, tell you to keep off it for a couple weeks, and send you on your way. You seek help. You get the support you need for that ankle to heal properly.
Realizing you have a mental deficiency is a bit trickier to recognize than a broken ankle. There’s no physical pain. There’s nothing to x-ray. Doctors can’t put a cast on it. Crutches and an ice compression are useless. In many cases, those who struggle with mental illness may not even know it and therefore won’t seek the help they need. Essentially, their mental illness never receives proper treatment and therefore never heals.
If left untreated, in the long run, a year, five years, ten years maybe, the struggle could prove to be too much. At best, they suffer alone in silence trying to cope. At second best, they make their illness more visible through actions and or their words yet refuse to get help. At worst, they decide to end the struggle themselves.
Mental illness can often be covered with a mask, hidden from the world behind a smile. Who would have guessed that Robin Williams battled depression his whole life? He was comedian who loved to make people laugh. Surely, someone as outgoing and funny as Mr. Williams couldn’t be depressed.
I’ve been thinking about this for the past year. A year ago I didn’t have a blog. Now I have a blog, I have a voice to the world. So I’m taking the next few days to write about this because I think it’s something that needs discussing. We need to break the stigma and end the silence that surrounds the topic of mental health?
Read part two- Breaking the Silence written by my wife about her battle with depression and getting through it.