Whether you know it or not, mental illness has touched your life.
Someone in your circle has a mental illness.
You may not know it, but they do.
They know it all too well.
The reason YOU don’t know it is that it remains hidden and one reason is the stigma.
The stigma of being thought “crazy.”
Or flawed. Or weak.
On CNN recently, Dr. Drew pointed out in the strongest of terms that our nation must remove the stigma surrounding depression and to remember that “it’s a medical condition and it can be treated.”
Clinical depression is serious stuff, although from the way psychotropic drugs are handed out for every little downward blip, you wouldn’t think so.
No, the real deal– clinical depression — is serious.
It’s not “being a little blue.”
You can’t just “get over it.
Telling someone to “cheer up” isn’t useful.
Depression is dark.
To the person who suffers from it, it can feel like falling off a cliff.
Sometimes it’s impossible to live a “normal” life in the throes of depression. But it can be treated. And those suffering depression need our support, not our judgment.
Treatment’s not always simple. Sometimes the disease can be resistant. It might take a cocktail of anti-depressants –and meds often need to be adjusted as the disease shifts.
One size does not fit all.
Dr. Drew’s right: mental illness of any kind is a MEDICAL CONDITION. Those who have the condition shouldn’t be stigmatized.
IT CAN BE TREATED. Sometimes there’s a belief that taking meds is a sign of weakness. That “gutting it out” is preferable.
That’s old-school thinking that reflects the stigma that still exists. If meds are called for, it’s important to give them a try.
Here’s what you can do to fight mental illness:
Get educated. Learn about it.
Don’t minimize it.
Don’t stigmatize it.
Don’t be afraid of it.
And for God’s sake, if someone you love has depression (or any mental illness) don’t hide in denial. Seek a better understanding of the disease and what you can do to be really helpful.
Support friends and family who suffer a mental illness as they get treated.
Robin Williams’ suicide started a new discussion about depression. The price of that discussion was awfully high.
But in his memory, let’s keep it going.
Rest now, gentle soul.