Mental illnesses are like pack animals. There is never just one without others lurking behind corners waiting to jump on us -- their weight holding us down; their teeth ripping through the flesh of our throat until we are too weak to fight back. As we lay bleeding and broken, available treatment is more difficult to reach.
I'm a postpartum nurse, recently diagnosed with mental illness. I will share my stories whether you want to read them or not. Stopping the stigma of mental illness now.
To really nail the concept of what mental illness is and how it affects both those who live with it and those who live with us, here are a few tips to guide in what I hope will be an ever-growing trend to encourage communication and break down the stereotypes. So without further ado, here are things to refrain from saying to someone with mental illness.
01/28/2015 08:20 EST
In order to further be part of a movement which strives to promote the existence of mental illnesses, I have to be able to speak my truth. Not just write it. Not hide behind my laptop. But say it out loud, and not say it with a smirk and a wink, and a jolly, "I'm crazy." This isn't helping anyone. I'm only further promoting the notion that mental illness needs to remain in the closet. Until people can accept that there is stigma, those of us who do suffer in silence; those of us who are too embarrassed to say out loud that we have an illness -- we need to refrain from using a vocabulary which only serves to further set back the progress.
01/20/2015 12:47 EST
Health is health. One disease does not trump another. But support goes a long way in raising spirits and causing one to feel less alone; less isolated. Depression is a state which has for its purpose to gnaw away at your mind bit by bit, until you have given up completely. And when that happens, the outcome is the same for someone battling from depression as someone fighting cancer.
01/12/2015 12:25 EST
Now that I've experienced stability in mild doses as my medication is regularly tweaked to find the right balance, I question myself often. Is my thought to return to school to get my Masters something I really want? Or is it residual hypomania egging me on? I still wake at night and watch as the thoughts battle each other for my undivided attention.
01/06/2015 08:57 EST
Nobody wants to be Ebenezer. But during the holidays, when all are merry, and my eyes are watering with the unexplained tears of depression -- which has not left me, but has only fooled those around me -- the oft-repeated, "What's wrong now? You seemed fine yesterday," only serves to make the demons in my head cackle a little louder.
12/22/2014 12:37 EST
To pit moms against each other is just cruel. No matter how our children are behaving or if and what they are accomplishing is worth mentioning or not -- and again who is the judge of that? -- to create a hierarchy in which one mother deserves the mom of the year award over another mystifies me.
11/22/2014 12:37 EST
I've been diagnosed as having Bipolar II Disorder. And although I spent hours, days, weeks, even months huddled under the covers wishing for a quick, tidy end to the pain, there were moments when a thought would make me throw the blankets off. The thought could be minor, like the sudden desire to make cupcakes for my kids. Or it could be extravagant and expensive like the remodeling of an entire bathroom.
11/10/2014 12:46 EST
Although comparing a broken bone to an amputated limb is not at all analogous, a civilian who loses a limb to a workplace injury is not provided anywhere near the compensation for such a tragedy as would a military member, who in all cases, is fully aware and prepared before deployment of the dangers involved in their jobs.
09/19/2014 05:54 EDT
As a postpartum nurse, and more importantly, as the mother to four children, realization hit me one day while I was working. It dawned on me that just because I now knew what to expect after you've expected, these little beings with the sweet smelling heads and the insistent personalities come into this world with a few rules and regulations that mom and her partner aren't yet aware of.
09/11/2014 12:50 EDT
Have we learned nothing from the death of Robin Williams? People who suffer from depression do so quietly. They keep their secret tucked away in their chest where the agony of it is only noticeable to them, not others.
08/31/2014 05:44 EDT
Interestingly, my breastfeeding experiences have made it such that now, as a postpartum nurse, my practice is centered on emphasizing the things I wish I had known -- things which not only ruined my possible precious memories, but made me wince every time I heard my child's familiar hunger cry.
08/27/2014 08:46 EDT
Eighteen years ago, fathers offered moral support with breastfeeding through fetching a glass of water for the wife. Now, things are different. This generation of dads is not leaving their partners' side to go home. Dads want to be involved in breastfeeding, and taking care of their partners and babies.
08/25/2014 12:39 EDT
Depression should no longer be hidden behind closed doors and under bed covers. Rather, society should become as sympathetic to the disorder, as they were eager to pour ice water on their heads. We might even be able to lessen the very obvious divide between those who suffer from mental illness and those who do not. So this is why I love the idea of mounting a campaign in which children and adults band together to acknowledge the severity and the legitimacy of this epidemic.
08/22/2014 12:07 EDT
Sadly, these people who are famous for being famous, could be using their celebrity status to promote something other than themselves, but instead chose to discuss depression as a simple emotion that Rob will simply overcome by his sisters nattering at him, and putting him down further.
08/19/2014 12:45 EDT
I read Zelda Williams's tribute to her dad. I could barely focus on the accolades because my mind zeroed in on the few words "While I'll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay..." Because that's the bottom line. His children loved him deeply, and he loved them, and yet, all that love was insufficient to keep him here...Or rather, the pain was just too much. That scares me.
08/18/2014 12:13 EDT
I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. I remembered interviews in which Williams discussed his own battle with this disorder, but that was years ago, and why would I even consider that the high-spirited actor was still wrestling a venomous shadow when thoughts of him are filled with his contagious smile, his lightning quick wit, and his infinite energy.
08/12/2014 10:03 EDT
I cried for hours, not only because I was unable to master motherhood with a smile, but also because my Postpartum Depression was not only aggravated by the lie I had believed about perfect parenting, but also perpetuated.
08/08/2014 12:10 EDT
I realized that I can no longer pretend that I am mentally healthy. As I scrolled through Instagram, my tears blurring my vision, I noticed a campaign meant to empower women, with the hashtag "finding joy." The first day of the challenge required a selfie in which the person holds a piece of paper on which the words "I am enough" are written.
08/03/2014 04:05 EDT
If you should experience any or all of the scenarios I have described, please don't wait to seek help quickly. What I did not know is that this is PPD, and I was not alone. What I also didn't know is that there are people who will not judge you, and who are trained at helping to heal you. Please always remember this.
07/29/2014 05:23 EDT
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