Even in our woke culture today, there is still prejudice and discrimination against people who struggle with mental health illnesses. Ever since my childhood, I have had a fear of being made fun of or rejected by my peers. As a child, I woke up most mornings with a fear of being ridiculed. This made life challenging, to say the least. And because of my self-stigma, I also delayed almost too long in seeking the help I needed.
In today’s blog, I want to write about some truths, from my experiences, regarding depression. I do hope you will read all the way through and if you feel led, share the link on your social media channels. You can also help me to shed more awareness on mental health illnesses by being someone who says “No More” to the stigma. Saying No More to the stigma associated with those who suffer from mental health issues is a great first step. And you know what? Your actions just may save a life. If you know or have a suspicion that someone is battling in silence, reach out to them. Do so gently so as not to turn them away.
Seeking Help will Only Lead to Further Bullying
FALSE: For many years I thought my battle with depression was my own fight. For one reason or another, I felt isolated and trapped on an island of misery with no one to turn to. After my sister passed away from cancer, I was desperate for help. I sought help from Jesus and He answered my prayer. I rededicated my life to follow Him.
I continued however to battle in silence and was able to manage my mental health illness until I heard of Pastor Jarrid Wilson’s suicide. As I was reading his story and how he had been an advocate for better mental health, I became aware of my propensity to hide my true feelings. His church released a statement saying Jarrid was “vibrant, positive, and was always serving and helping others. He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.”
I have what some would call Smiling Depression. I did not know Jarrid personally, however, based on what I have read, I suspect we shared the same ability to hide. Smiling Depression is in essence someone who has become very adept at hiding mental their illness. And for the last 40 years, I have become a great actor.
Shortly after Jarrid’s suicide, I came out about my depression to my Connection Group at our church. For the first time in almost 40 years of suffering, I finally asked for prayer. With exception of burying our son, asking for help was the hardest thing I have ever done. I had for all those years feared further shame by what my mother had done when I was a child. So if you are suffering in silence, please speak up!!
Stop Fooling Yourself! Just snap out of it.
FALSE: If I had a dollar every time I wished the pain would end with the snap of a finger, I would be a millionaire. Trust me, if I could just snap out of it, I would. And to be blatantly honest, telling someone with mental health issues to “Just snap out of it” does more harm.
Sadness and a Feeling of Emptiness are Common Symptoms
TRUE: Everyone experiences sadness at some point in their life. This is an unavoidable human emotion. Sadness, anxiety, and stress are common emotions and in some cases, they can be healthy. Sadness is an important part of the grieving process for a loved one. However, feeling sadness or emptiness for no apparent reason for several weeks at a time may be a sign of depression. Per the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder that causes a “persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.”
Though sadness is a common human emotion, please speak with your doctor if the feelings continue over a period of time.
Depression is only Genetic
FALSE: There are definite links to genetics being a cause for clinical depression. However, studies have also shown that adults, who have had a traumatic event during their childhood, are more susceptible to experiencing depressive disorders. And as in my case, I was unsure of how to deal with the trauma of my mother pushing me away so I developed my own coping mechanisms. As a child, I relied on isolation and self-stigma to cope which ultimately led to being bullied by my classmates.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.