And a lot has happened. I know that I have a lot that I need to catch up on, but today I need to cover a topic that is near and dear to my heart, more and more lately.
It is incredibly difficult to be candid about mental health issues. As someone who suffers from more than one, I find myself constantly having to deal with the stigmas that are attached to being clinically diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s difficult to talk about, but the more time I spend around people without them knowing, the more surprised they tend to be when they find out. My coworkers all know, for instance, and they try so hard to be delicate about it. I appreciate that, but at the same time, it’s unfortunate to me that it is discussed in hushed tones and never really directly talked about. Like, when Tony (my good friend and newly frocked third class) mentions my appointments, he always hesitates and lets me fill in “therapy” or whatever.
I took the pledge from Make It OK dot org (https://makeitok.org/) to help end the stigma and the quizzes that they have and discussion points that they suggest are really awesome. They also promote a podcast I’ve recently started listening to called The Hilarious World of Depression. The podcast was recommended to me by a friend, who informed me that his intent was “not pandering, I just really think you’ll enjoy it.” (Which, by the way, is a great example of what to say.) THWD is a candid look at mental illnesses of all shapes and sizes with various big comedic personalities, my favorite so far being an interview with Andy Richter. THWD and Make It OK are powerhouse partners in de-stigmatizing mental illness, raising awareness, and helping people understand that not only is it okay to talk about, you NEED to talk about it. “Depression wants you to stay silent because if you stay silent it festers and diseases love to fester.” I may have gotten a few words wrong, but this quote from John Moe, host of THWD, was one of the things that made me realize I had finally found a podcast for me. That and his discussion with Andy Richter about the vast difference between people’s reactions to diseases and injuries that aren’t mental health related made the biggest impact for me. Andy Richter opens up about his meds and how people ask if he thinks he’ll need to be on them forever, and draws the comparison saying that no one would ask that question if it were Lipitor or insulin or levothyroxine.
It’s the honest truth, too, that depression is something that needs to be talked about. I’ve stayed quiet about my mental health issues for years – my parents didn’t even know that I was depressed until a few years back – but now that I’ve gotten into therapy and started on medications and such I’ve become a lot more open. The thing is, there is no defining characteristic of depression across all spectrums; it is a disease that is different for everyone, so honestly one of the worst things you can say to a depressed person is “you don’t seem depressed” or “you don’t act like you’re depressed.” We know. Some of us (like me) function highly. I have been described as witty and engaging. People describe me as an outgoing, bright, friendly, bubbly kind of person who is great with people. The truth? I am an introvert who hates dealing with people, I am clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), ADHD, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and most days trying to get out of bed is a struggle.
Here recently, I’ve come to realize that talk therapy isn’t really working for me anymore, so I’ve started to look into other avenues. As a psychology student, I’ve been given a bit more insight into my own treatment than the average person might, so I am going to be talking to my therapist about cognitive behavior/processing therapy. I’m also in the process of trying to change my self-talk habits and adjusting my inner voice, and honestly the most helpful thing that anyone has said or done for me in that regard happened this morning, when my closest friend in the entire world told me that, going forward, I am not allowed to say or think anything about myself that I would not say or think about her. It changed my perspective drastically, and I am deeply grateful to her for it.
I know this was a somewhat heavy post for a Monday, especially since it has been so long since I’ve written anything, but it was on my heart and mind and I felt the need to put it out there.
Please, go to Make It OK dot org and take the pledge. Even if you don’t suffer from a mental illness, odds are someone that you know does.
Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!