Depression, anxiety, bipolar, and other mental illnesses should not and cannot be taboo anymore! We need to put an end to it! The stigma it has had in the past, needs to be left in the past.
This week, I was reminded yet again, how fragile life is. Four and a half years ago, my dear friend became a widow too soon. Her husband took his own life. It was heart wrenching, angering, and confusing. He made everybody laugh, my kids adored him (they still talk about him), was talented (he sang and played the guitar), and was a handsome guy. He had a beautiful, loving wife and an 8 month old baby that they had prayed for for years, that he adored. From the outside looking in, he had it all.
Fast forward four and a half years. A few days ago, I got a text letting me know a friend of mine had taken his own life. The text was asking for prayers for those that had been left behind and said that “no one had any idea.” I spent a lot of time with this friend’s family while I was in high school, and he was such a fun person to be around, and was loved by many. He also left behind a young widow and a daughter.
A few years ago, I had a friend open up to me about her battle with depression. I will call her Sarah. When Sarah first told me, I was shocked. I would have never guessed it. She always put a smile on her face when she was out in public, but at home she was tormented by hopeless feelings and thoughts. She is an amazing person with an amazing family, and they are admired by many. She knows she is blessed, she knows she has a good life, yet when the depression takes over, her thoughts become irrational and it hurts! She feels alone. It’s a pain that no one understands unless you’ve personally been through it, and very few talk about it, so even though there are probably many surrounding her that have felt or are feeling the same feelings, much of our society has labeled it as a weakness and so no one talks about it. Some keep it in until they can’t take it anymore, leaving loved ones feeling pain, anger, and guilt.
All three of these people have some things in common; others believe(d) in them, love(d) them, and would do anything for them, but in those moments of despair they didn’t/don’t believe in themselves, they feel hopeless. They deal(t) with internal turmoil that no one knew about or could understand. I wonder sometimes if they even understand it.
My husband is in the medical field, where he sees the behind the scenes, and in his words “there is a ton” that deal with mental illness. So why if so many deal with it, do people feel ashamed about it? Why do they keep it in? It’s not their fault. It’s an illness. Cancer victims are known as survivors, and it should be no different with people diagnosed with mental illness. People that deal with anxiety and depression and other mental illnesses, should consider themselves survivors! They are dealing with, and beating, a difficult illness. They are survivors!
So to all the survivors out there! We love you! You are strong! You are admired! If you are battling this alone, it’s time to tell someone…. tell a family member, a friend, a counselor. It doesn’t matter who, just tell someone. It’s not your fault and you don’t need to do this alone!
I heard a study on the radio and it said that the best medicine for depression is meditation. Don’t forget that Jesus knows you and knows how you feel. Always turn to him first, and then to your angels on earth. Pray, read scriptures, other uplifting materials, listen to good music, spend time in the mountains or somewhere quiet. Exercise and do things that will naturally boost those endorphins. Consult a physician to see if medications will help. Go to a counselor. There are so many options. Use them! You are a survivor, but if you went to battle without being prepared, you would surely fail. Protect yourself, arm yourself, and you will be victorious!
There are many different reasons why people have self-destructive thoughts, it may be an illness, it may be a side effect to medicine, it may be because of baby blues, or it may be some other reason, but whatever the reason, if we put an end to the taboo and stigma the society has placed on these feelings and thoughts, we will have more survivors! When people have self destructive thoughts it is an illness, it is not THEM…it’s not who they are! It is an imbalance and they need seek for help without feeling ashamed! Our featured story this week, has personal insight into how difficult that can be.
For those on the sidelines, you never know what someone else is dealing with internally. What we see from the outside looking in, is not usually the full picture. Be kind, be supportive, be compassionate, be forgiving, be educated, and be open-minded.
For the victims of suicide, it is not your fault. Please believe that. Let go of that pain, guilt, and anger. Forgive them and forgive yourself. You also have to look at it as an illness, some lose the battle, but as we raise awareness, and change our thinking as a society, we can increase the survival rate and will have more survivors in our midst!
If you are battling with a mental illness, or if you know of someone that has these thoughts for whatever reason, there is a wonderful and hopeful talk I would strongly encourage you to read or listen to. It’s called “Like a Broken Vessel“, from Jeffrey R. Holland. Whatever your faith or religion may be, after watching this talk, you will feel hope and peace for a greater tomorrow! Whether you are the caregiver, or the one battling the illness, this will make you feel like you can conquer this trial! You’ll feel like a survivor!
So here’s to a new way of thinking! Let’s increase the number of mental illness survivors by making this illness no longer a taboo topic.
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