Alongside animal rights, another thing that I believe in is proper mental health care. I remain stunned that in the 21st century, there is still so much stigma attached to mental illness: it’s “all in your head,” suicide is “selfish,” depressed people should just “snap out of it.”
If only it were that easy.
I suffer from mental illness—a few, actually. It’s not always fun being me. I shut down from depression, cut people out of my life, sabotage myself in ways few would understand, and listen to my brain repeat itself . . . and then deal with the resulting behaviors from that repetition.
I have hurt many because of my actions, and you know what the problem is aside from the actual hurt? I can’t tell them why. Nope. I can’t. Not even after nervous breakdowns, suicide attempts, countless prescriptions, and therapy. Why did I behave that way? I can’t tell you, because I don’t know.
The good news is that I have made many breakthroughs, and I have come a long, long, long way. Through intensive and painful therapy and a ton of self-healing and reflection, I understand better from where my mental illness and behaviors originate.
I am healing from and am successfully combating the crap I have been through and the crap I have going against me. I still can’t explain to you why I feel the way I do or behave the way I behave sometimes, but I’m working on it.
I don’t bring this up for sympathy, or even empathy. I don’t want it. I have fought to get better because that’s what I have chosen to do. It’s my battle. I bring it up because I see so many others struggling, including people I love and have loved, and few receive the care or understanding that they need.
I live in a country that has advanced medical technology that is respected worldwide. I live in a country that is built upon a constitution that affords freedoms many others do not enjoy . . . yet I live in a country that is inept, painfully, at treating people with mental illness.
I honestly don’t understand it.
Mental illness is a genuine, physical illness, and mental health care is a genuine need. Those suffering really can’t “snap out of it,” and they do stupid things to sabotage themselves and their lives for no apparent reason. They aren’t just dinking around—they can’t help it.
I had a psychologist who said it best when I held on to the stigma of mental illness myself. I refused to take my anti-depressants, and he said to me in frustration, “Why do you think this is any different than a diabetic needing insulin?” I nearly fell out of my chair. He was right. I was ill. It’s not different.
This misunderstanding, this inability to recognize and treat mental illness as a genuine, life-threatening condition is a huge injustice in my humble opinion. There are people out there who are as helpless as those battling terminal illness and yet others don’t seem to care as much.
Maybe it isn’t as glamourous to support those who feel that taking their own life is their only option, and before you see red, I’m not discounting those who fight terminal illness. Someone I love very much is in a fight right now, and I will do whatever it takes to support and help her.
What I’m saying is please understand that others don’t commit suicide because they’re being selfish. People commit suicide because in their mind, where the brain chemistry misfires, they believe it is their only option. She or he is disabled to do otherwise, much less even get out of bed at times.
We live in the beginning of the 21st century. Are we going to go back to the beginning of the 20th century and ostracize those with mental health issues, or are we going to finally reject the stigma and support proper help and care for those who suffer from the mental illness’ debilitating conditions.
I, for one, know how awful it can be, so I choose to help.
Please note: This blog post is written from my personal experience and expresses my opinions only. I am not a medical professional, nor am I qualified to dispense medical advice. If you believe you are suffering from depression, please contact your health care professional or the emergency mental health care hotline in your area immediately.
Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved