Mental illness is a very real and ever-present issue in my family. My wife suffers from bi-polar disorder and depression is prevalent in her family. The heredity of mental illness scares the life out of me Maddie. I am constantly looking for signs of it in my children. I've yet to really see any, but the scary part is sometimes you don't.
Is there anything more tragic than going through life "unseen," feeling crushingly alone despite being in community? That's exactly what living with the stigma of compromised mental health feels like.
My first piece I posted here was about mental illness within minority communities. I spoke a little on my own personal experiences but since then hav...
The way we care for people with mental illness, isn't world class, and it's rarely quick. It's even worse for our kids. Or at least, because it's about kids, it feels worse. If your child is diagnosed with a mental illness, the neighbours don't rally the same way they would for cancer.
When living with a mental illness, you feel scared and alone. You might have the best support system around you but you still feel like there is no one. It feels like nobody understands what is going through your mind and you are living in this dark scary world. You end up pushing away your family and friends. You become selfish and you don't care how you treat other people and how your actions affect them.
When I was going through it, and if I'm being honest, I still am, I felt utterly alone. The symptoms of depression sometimes present themselves as flaws. I kept thinking if I adjusted my attitude or if I weren't such a bad person then I would feel better. Because we think it's something we've done or that it's our fault, we don't seek treatment. Too many of us aren't reaching out for help when we're experiencing these things.
Our daughter was born on March 2, 1990 and died on March 15, 2014. Just 24 years old. She died from an accidental OxyContin overdose... We decided to tell her story to make people aware of the problems that could result from untreated mental health issues.
For me, figuring out and seeking treatment for my anxiety has been a healing and affirming process. But I often wonder: how would my childhood and teenage years have been different if I had a vocabulary for understanding my anxiety? If my parents, siblings or friends did? If I had early access to therapy or other kinds of treatment -- or even just a way to talk about my anxiety and resulting depression?
Mental health problems are often hidden. Unknown to those around them, people may be living with mental illness, whether that's a diagnosis such as schizophrenia or a so-called low level problem like anxiety or depression.
Please, whatever you do, don't be afraid of talking about your symptoms or feelings with friends, family, or peers. This can be a great first step in addressing your own mental health needs and possibly identify any issues that you may be having in your life that may require psychiatric or therapeutic attention... Believe in yourself and your own internal strength.
I was verbally bullied about my weight throughout school. The weight started increasing exponentially while I was in high school. That is when it started impacting my moods and the way I looked at life... I did not want to be around my friends and I started isolating myself. I became physically sick with stomach problems, mentally sick and looked down upon myself. I hit rock bottom.
Our lives have been irrevocably impacted by the loss of our son; a grief that is almost impossible to put into words. Stigma in part prevented our son from seeking support which would have perhaps led him to understand that his depression was the result of many factors. We cannot change our history but as survivors of suicide loss we can channel our grief into changing lives. We can be part of ending stigma forever and be a force in the evolving suicide prevention conversation. As a country we can move from awareness to action and saving lives. In my son's honour I will continue to advocate for youth suicide prevention so other families' understand what our family could not.
American depression rates fall behind only India and China. In an article from U.S. News and World Report, the WHO tracked "quality years of life lost due to disability or death," and reported researchers found the U.S. most affected by not only depression but anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
We all have ups and downs. Some people are very moody and emotionally intense. How does a parent separate the normal swings of a youth's tumultuous life from a real depression that needs treatment?
If you remove all of life's unpleasantries, what are you really teaching your child about the world? Doing so will only result in giving your child a false sense of reality. Resilience, being able to get back up after you fall down, is what adults must instill in children. Allow your child to face uncomfortable circumstances even if it makes you uncomfortable. This will teach them about overcoming adversity.
Having worked in suicide prevention, I know that making suicide and suicide ideation taboo plays a part in suicide statistics. Just like Mental Illness has been coming out of the closet in the last few years, suicides can be prevented when it is destigmatized and talked about. We have anti-bullying legislation talk about workplace harassment. But suicide or suicide ideation and mental illness are too often off the table.