I have never understood why any illness to do with our mind is approached differently from a physical illness. Like the quote to the left says, if someone announces they have cancer or diabetes, people reach out and offer support. But when it comes to something like anxiety, depression or bipolar, people are hesitant to even ask for support because it has such a negative stigma attached to it. For example – if you break your leg, you take medication and go to physical therapy until it gets better. If you become depressed, you have the option of taking medication and going to therapy to help you feel better. So why is there a negative stigma associated with mental illness?! It only makes those who are struggling feel even worse because it can cause them to feel isolated and alone. It causes people to try and cover up and hide how they feel. To smile through their tears. And this really, really needs to change.
This is how I felt for a lot of my life. I felt that I was different to everyone else because it seemed as if no one else felt the way that I did. I would try and cover up my anxiety because I was afraid of being judged. But the minute a friend of mine opened up to me about her own issues with anxiety and also depression, I immediately felt relief from the fact that I wasn’t alone. I was able to open up to her in return because I knew she understood how I felt. Then from that moment on, I started to hear stories
about friends with eating disorders, anxiety, depression… you name it! The more stories I heard the less alone I felt.
It is so easy for someone struggling internally to appear fine on the outside. Just as others have no idea whats really happening in your mind, you have no idea whats really happening in theirs, so there is no point in comparing yourself. I know so many people who you would never assume to be struggling unless they told you. And if once they did, you would probably be shocked. I started to follow blogs where people shared their story and struggles, much like I do on this blog. And from there I started to build the confidence to speak openly to people about my struggle with anxiety and the steps I took to manage it. I can honestly say that deciding to share how I felt was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel better than I ever have, and only good things have happened to me ever since I shared my story:
- I connected to many people on a much deeper, more fulfilling level.
- I felt proud of what I have overcome and how I handled it, and now I have this want/need to help others.
- I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
- I no longer felt ashamed or embarrassed. Instead I felt strong.
More than 54 million Americans are affected with some sort of mental disorder every year. Whether it’s a chemical imbalance or due to a situation, it happens and it’s normal and no one should be afraid to admit it. No one should feel as if they have to hide how they feel and suffer through it alone. If you are going through a hard time, go to the friends and family you trust and let them know. Find support and help. Don’t let it build up and take over your life. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. Reach out to people and get the help that you need.