I’ve always been a firm believer in talking openly and honestly about this often-taboo subject. Yes, I’ve battled depression and anxiety. Yes, I’ve been hospitalized for it. No, I’m NOT ashamed.
Mental illness is one of the most stigmatized and misunderstood illnesses in the world. It strikes everyone — young, old, rich, poor — and it doesn’t discriminate. It’s not going to go away because you’re “strong” or because mental illness doesn’t “happen to people like you.” If only things in life were that simple.
So we try to understand it, try to wrap our minds around these afflictions of the mind and try to find a simple, go-to explanation — something that will cure it once and for all. And when we realize nothing is ever that easy when it comes to mental illness? We start throwing around phrases that are decidedly unhelpful and downright damaging: “Just get over it.” “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” “You have no reason to be sad or anxious.”
Honestly, it’s these kinds of statements make me realize just how much work needs to be done to change things and to end that stigma because mental illness IS a physical illness. The worst thing you can say to someone struggling with a mental illness is to just get over it or buck up. That’s not how it works, unfortunately. So, please, educate yourself because I can guarantee you that mental illness will touch you at some point in your life, whether it’s you or a loved one. And just like a physical illness, people can’t get through something like depression or anxiety or OCD without the love and support of their loved ones.
We can all do our part to END THE STIGMA — today, tomorrow and forever. Here are some past pieces I’ve written on mental health…
What words of wisdom do you have for dealing with a mental illness, friends? What can we do to be more supportive? If you’re struggling, please remember that YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I love you!!! xoxo
[Photos via We Heart It]