Wednesday 4/1/2015 – Mental Health Stigma

     So yesterday I decided to forego doing a blog day for the first time as I put up the link for my Out Of the Darkness Walk ~ it’s a walk that benefits the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.  Obviously a cause close to my heart as I have been there (as evidenced by my overdose in June of 2013).  It’s hard to believe for me actually that it will be 2-years ago soon, I can remember that morning so vividly as if it happened last week.  I suppose that is both good and bad, because the poignancy of the memory is a good reminder to fight to never get to that point again; but at the same time I wish I could forget that I was ever there.

It’s funny since I began my blog I’ve heard from so many people who relate with different parts of my journey, and for a vast majority of those people their “mental health” does become a part of the picture at one point or another.  Honestly, if you are obese in such a way that you are considering Weight Loss Surgery I would think that it would be on the TOP of list of things to give attention to.  If you are a sufferer of Gastroparesis the reality is that this condition does have an impact on your life ~ not just the physical life but the emotional/mental/psychological as well.  Personally I think that anyone who says that either of these situations does NOT have those impacts is not seeing things very clearly.  I’m not suggesting that everyone who struggles with these things will even come close to being suicidal, but on the spectrum from a few bad days to suicidal there are a PLETHORA of emotional psychological and mental considerations.

    So what ABOUT the Stigma?  What about letting people know you were that low and actually acknowledging it and talking about it?  If I told you it was an “easy decision” I would be a liar through and through.  I also made the choice to talk pretty bluntly about my experience rather than gloss over it, that was not an accidental decision either.  The reality is I’m not a nut job, cray, psycho or kukoo for coco puffs, I was depressed and at that point I kind of had the right to be.  Could I have made other choices?  Maybe yes, maybe no; but I didn’t.  My make up, my mind, my circumstances, my psyche, my problem solving skills, my genetics and my everything led me to where I was.  I do remember “feeling” the stigma though, no wanting to tell ANYONE let alone say it all in public.

    Over time though and as I “got better” I decided to rebel against the “stigma” rather than hide because of it.  Stigma is defined as: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.  Honestly, there is no disgrace for me in what I did.  I’m saddened that I ended up there, I “wish” on some levels that my life had taken other turns along the way but I in no way feel disgraced by what I’ve endured.  I have come to believe in “everything for a reason”, and even this path has it’s reasons for me.

     If by sharing my “story” as embarrassing as it might be in some ways, if ONE person who is feeling suicidal, who is feeling disgrace or shame can see a SLIVER of sunshine or a ray of hope then it’s worth every moment of UNcomfortableness that I have felt in sharing my most personal pains in such a public forum.  Literally if you are reading this and you want to die, you feel like there is literally NO WAY OUT ~  I get you and you know “I get you” because I’ve sat there taking pill after pill after pill hoping to never see the light of day again.  Oh by the way, I’m not crazy, I’m not attention seeking, I’m not weak, I’m not ignorant, and NEITHER ARE YOU.  Screw the stigma, the REALITY is that life is hard as hell sometimes and SOMETIMES in your darkest hour you may feel weak or worthless to this world, I know I SURE DID.  I cannot in good faith say that it will be all be 100% better tomorrow because I’m a realist and if you are that far down, that statement is about an UNrealistic as it gets.  I can tell you however that it CAN get better, that the place your in right now is NOT forever.  If you can gather enough strength to open your heart for a moment there are so MANY who understand, and the Stigma associated with mental health is B-S.

     Globally more than 350 MILLION people struggle with depression.  An estimated QUARTER MILLION people each year become suicide SURVIVIORS which speaks VOLUMES to the amount of attempts (successful and not) that occur.  One of the best “memes” on social media that I have ever seen says “Never use a permanent solution to a temporary problem”, but beyond that please do NOT allow “Stigma” to keep you where you cannot see the light.  There are SO MANY people just like you out there, there are so many that can and WILL listen without judgment and who DO know “what it feels like”.  I cannot offer any magical cures but I can tell you with 100% certainty that if you just reach out, if you can find the strength for one more moment; you can start your journey towards a better place.  I can also assure you that anyone who judges you based on the Stigma is either ignorant of the realities, or in their own denial in such a way that they cannot comprehend.  You are not alone, it is NOT hopeless; I WAS hopeless, I WAS devastated and I WAS at a rock bottom so low I thought I’d never again see the light of day ~ yet here I am and the sun is shining.  Reach inside, reach out, call the national suicide hotline, call a friend; let it start with you ~ if you use that LITTLE bit of energy you have left to try one more time you might just be surprised at the support you can find out there.  Ultimately you may find that you in fact become a voice to help dispel the myths and stigmas surrounding depression, suicide and “mental health” in general ~ and your own voice may surprise you ~ I know mine has!

***As always please know I am NEITHER a mental health nor a medical professional, the thoughts and ideas I share are based on my PERSONAL experience only, and my opinions are just that my opinions.  PLEASE if you have any medical or mental health issues seek the help and advice of qualified professionals immediately.

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