I’ve had Depression. It has recurred several times. The first couple of times, I didn’t know what was happening. The next few times, I didn’t want to admit what was happening. The last time felt like it was going to be the end of me… but it wasn’t.
This last experience was a major turning point. Somehow, I was able to start talking about my mental health and, for some reason, once I had started talking about it, I couldn’t stop. The more I talked, the more I learned about depression and other related mental health issues. I learned how little us humans know about the functioning of our brains and how common it is for us to have problems with its health. I learned that many of my friends and relatives had suffered similar experiences but, for a multitude of reasons, had never told me about them.
My learning lead me to thinking – thinking about how I became embarrassed of mental illness, but not of other ailments. Was this learned during my childhood? If so, how? Why? From whom? If I learned it as a child, then are other children still learning this today? Even worse, are there children experiencing depression and other mental health issues, with no idea of what is happening to them because adults never talk to them about it? Are they hiding their symptoms the way adults often do?
Depression is awful for anyone, but think of a child going through it alone. What can we do? We can start by talking. We are not all ready to do this. Mental health is a deeply personal issue, but for those of us who are able, we have already started to open up about it. Twitter is alive with mental health advocates and people ‘talking’ about their personal experiences. There is an abundance of both anecdotal and scientific information there for the taking… and take it we must. We must take it and use it to educate society both young and old. We must spread the word, learn from each other, and teach children about it. This way, perhaps we can eradicate stigma and ensure that adults and children get the help that they need, when they need it.
Mental illness does not discriminate. It can and does affect anyone. It is the result of sickness, not weakness. I am here to add my voice to the growing number of voices that are already shouting this message loud and clear. I am here to help to teach youth the truth and not stigma. Let’s help future generations to be better prepared. Let’s help our own children so that they can be better than us and act through a lens of caring, not judgement.
I hope that my voice helps.