Mental Illness is something everyone deals with in one form or another – whether they deal with it personally, whether they are living with someone who has a genuine mental illness, or whether they have a friend who is suffering from it. It touches all our lives in one form or fashion. And I personally think that every single one of us have some form of mental challenge or disorder to overcome – It may be depression, or anxiety, or mood disorders, or body image and eating disorder issues, or over-achievement issues, or control issues, or attention deficit issues, or compulsion issues, or just attitude issues…whichever the case may be, we all have to work to overcome our own issues and try to improve ourselves and become the best “us” we can be.
I get so frustrated when people feel like they need to embarrassed or ashamed of their issues. I get so irritated when people project a negative stigma around people seeking out counseling or a therapist, or when someone acts as though it is a sign that a person is broken when they seek out needed help or medication (if it is necessary) to help them improve their problem. I personally think it is AWESOME when a person has the courage to go and seek help to overcome their problems. I think the very fact that someone is willing to #1 recognize their own weakness, and #2 take the steps to find help to fix it, shows that the person is AMAZING! It impresses me so much when people are willing to face their weaknesses and take whatever steps are necessary to improve them. It speaks volumes to the character of that person who is willing to humble themselves enough to admit they can’t do it alone and who is willing to get help. I applaud it!!!
I went through overcoming the stigma myself in my late 20’s when a trusted friend suggested that I might have A.D.D. and that I might want to talk to a psychiatrist to see if meds would benefit me. My first reaction was to feel offended that my friend thought something was wrong with me. But as I thought about that friend’s comments over the next week I realized that I genuinely did have trouble keeping focused and that my mind was always racing a million miles a minute and it was frustrating to not be able to stay engaged in a conversation with someone without my mind being somewhere else. I could see that my lack of engaged attention was causing the people in my life to think I didn’t care about them – which wasn’t at all the case in how I felt – I just literally couldn’t stay focused on the conversation, even when I was trying with all my might to do so. It ended up making me feel negatively about myself and it caused me to beat myself up thinking I just sucked because I couldn’t pay attention. I would feel depressed and discouraged that I couldn’t fix it. When I thought about all that and my friends advice to me I decided that I was going to push away all my fears of being seen as “broken” or “messed up” and I was going to go see a therapist to see if there was something that could be done. I was scared to go and I was scared of what other people would think of me, but I decided to do it anyway – I wanted to improve and get better and I clearly couldn’t do it on my own. So I went. And sure enough I was diagnosed with A.D.D and given meds to take. Those meds changed my life. They allowed my mind to focus and stay engaged. It allowed me to listen to people with full focus which let others know that I cared about them and was interested in what they had to say. The difference for me was night and day and it changed my life completely for the better. I have never once regretted the decision I made to get help that day. Not once.
And now I try and share it with other people whenever I can see that they are struggling with their own mental issues to overcome but who are hesitating to seek out help for fear of what others will think or for fear of being seen as weak or broken. I want them to know that they don’t need to be embarrassed or worried because getting help makes them STRONG, not weak! It makes them AWESOME for being smart enough to get whatever help they need to change their own life for the better. It makes them COURAGEOUS for facing their weaknesses head on. My hope in sharing all this is that even one person reading it who is struggling with their own issue will find the courage to do something about it and seek out the help they need to improve their life. It will be worth it..take it from me 🙂