Tag Archives: mental health stigma

No One Should Be Dying From It

So much awareness is brought to mental illness when someone well known dies from it.  When suicide takes a life away – suddenly everyone is aware of what pain it causes – to that person and to those that loved them – and even to those that did not know them personally but were somehow touched by them.

There have been so many articles, news reports, and posts about Robin William’s death.  I did a post myself.  I do not think it is wrong to bring this attention – I think it is great!

My problem with it is — it starts strong — everyone cares about it.  The public published the suicide hotline number on Facebook, they post that they care and are there for anyone who needs to talk.  They talk about how stigma is wrong.  I am not saying that they are lying in any way.  I think they do believe these things.  I think that losing someone that they were genuinely touched by has affected them.  Once that grieving period dies down though, the “sensationalism” of the issue dies down too.

How many celebrities have we lost to suicides and overdoses over the years?  How many times have we had a month or two where mental health was a big issue because of this and everyone seemed to care about it, to support it?  Then suddenly – it all just went away.

Perhaps, this time it will be different.  Maybe this time, the suicide hotline numbers will stay up.  Maybe people really will take the time to listen and be there for others.  Maybe the stigma will die down.

A few celebrities we have lost over the last few years that have brought quite a bit of attention to the news were:

Philip Seymore Hoffman – drug overdose

L’Wren Scott – Hung herself

Lee Thompson Young – shot himself

Whitney Houston – drowned – with cocaine being a factor, but struggled with drugs and this brought up great discussion after her death

Amy Whinehouse – Alcohol Poisoning …. thus joining “Club 27” – a club of popular musicians who died at the age of 27 from suicide/drug overdose and homicides.

Lots of discussion occurred after these deaths … but soon after, it all just died down. These are just a few of the deaths too.  There were a lot more.  A lot more due to drug overdoses, which is a serious mental health issue today.  A lot more suicides over the years as well.   Let’s not let these stories happen and people just forget about them.  Mental illness is not something that should be in the news for a few months and forgotten.  Let’s keep it in the spotlight.  These celebrities should not be dying from it, we should not be dying from it – no one should be dying from it. 


What Does Depression “look like”?

I have struggled with depression most of my life. The first time I remember really being depressed and staying depressed was probably when I was around 10 years old.
No one ever really knew it though. Why? Because depression can take many different forms – when we are depressed, we can hide it very well or we can display it very obviously. It really can depend on many factors.

So what can depression look like?

It can look like someone laughing and smiling and having a great time.
It can look like someone crying and sobbing.
It can look like someone sleeping non stop.
It can look like someone with horrible insomnia.
It can look like someone who has absolutely no appetite at all.
It can look like someone who cannot stop eating even though they just ate 5 minutes ago.
It can look like someone who has lots of friends.
It can look like someone who has no friends.
It can look like someone who does well in school.
It can look like someone who does poorly in school.
It can look like someone who has a great job.
It can look like someone who has no job.
It can look like someone who is well off (“rich”).
It can look like someone who is not well off or poor.
It can look like someone who is white, black, brown, pink, purple, striped, or polka dotted.
It can look like someone who is in the USA, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia, Russia, Brazil, or any other random place they might be.

Depression takes many forms. It does not discriminate to a certain type of person. And even if a certain person looks “fine” they might not be. Someone does not have to be lying around all day, crying all the time, to be in horrible depression.

For many years in middle school and high school I kept high grades, was in all AP classes, but was severely depressed with strong suicidal ideations. Secretly I would cry at night, but in front of everyone else, I kept myself strong. No one had any idea that something was wrong with me. A few teachers had an idea as I slowly began to not do well in their classes and slept throughout the class, but would bring my grades up by the end of the semester so they never addressed it. On the outside, for the most part, my life looked great. If friends came over, they only saw the good parts of my life. On facebook they only see positive status updates and happy pictures (which can many times be forced smiles).

Many times people call this “wearing a mask.” Similar to in theatre, when people would wear masks to represent the happy or sad faces — a depressed person would simply put on a mask to display the emotion of happiness. We feel vulnerable taking off the mask. We feel as though it will make us weak. And society has somewhat put this thought into our heads, especially for the male population. Many children have also been taught this by their families – they should not express their emotions.

So, do not assume that just because someone seems happy that they do not struggle with depression. Just because someone constantly posts positive facebook pictures and statuses that they have an amazing life. Or that whenever you go to their house that they have a peaceful house so they must be happy. No one knows the situations behind closed doors, behind the masks that people wear.

1 in 5 adults (over the age of 18) had a mental illness within the last year. That is 45.6 million people (according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration – SAMHSA). This includes diagnosable mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders BUT excludes developmental and substance abuse disorders.

Mental illness is much more common than we think. However, with the stigma behind it, not many people are open to talking about it. Not many people are willing to be honest with others about their feelings about how bad they are really feeling. This prevents many people from getting the help that they need and causes many to struggle on their own for a long time.