The other day I saw a post on Facebook that really has me thinking. The post said something along the lines of mental illness, I believe it was depression specifically, just being in someones head. That you can just get rid of it if you choose to do so. While this post as a whole is not completely wrong, it makes me wonder just how much of society is uneducated on the topic of mental illness and just mental health as a whole.
My high school counselor once told me “You can’t be too depressed. I saw you walking and smiling with so-and-so. So get over it.”
I’ve heard so many times “calm down” or “it’s ok,” and things like “just don’t think about it.” If only it were as simple as these statements.
For those who don’t know, things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, and a number of other mental health issues, are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Dopamine, serotonin, whatever it may be. Something that an individual cannot control unless on a medication to balance the imbalance out. It’s not as simple as one day waking up and deciding that you won’t have whatever problem you may be facing. As much as we wish that were the case.
I guess one would have a hard time understanding things like mental illness if they have never personally faced it or have had a very close loved one face the struggle. How could someone understand that? Even some of us who struggle with mental health on a daily basis still have a hard time understanding exactly what is wrong and what is going on. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that there wasn’t something “normal” with my brain. It took me over four years to seek therapy.
Currently, I suffer from panic disorder (severe anxiety), and bipolar 2 (the lesser of the two bipolars). I am on both xanax (when needed) and trileptal, twice a day. The trileptal is a mood balancer. It kind of just mellows things out. I was so afraid that I would walk around like an emotionless zombie when I started my pills. I was wrong, thankfully, and am so much happier on the medication. I look at myself before the medication and wonder how many people walk around like that every day and we don’t even know? I would put on a happy face and smile and laugh with everyone I talked to (mostly). Only those close to me really truly knew the struggles that I was facing. I mostly attribute this to the fact that mental illness has seemingly become a joke to todays society. The words depression and anxiety float around in the air meaning little to nothing. As if they are just a simple feeling and not a complex thing of the brain. This is what makes me sad.
Just stop being angry. Wake up and just be happy about life. Stop moping around. Smile more. Why are you so grumpy all of the time? Did you take your pills? You have no reason to be depressed. My problems are worse than yours. Get over it.
IF you have ever said the above things to someone, please, apologize and do a little more research. Or just sit there and think about what you just said. Those kinds of words can be damaging to someone. My counselor scarred me in high school. We do want to get over it. We want to smile more. We want to wake up happy and not be angry all of the time. We just want to feel….normal.
What is normal these days though? IS mental illness becoming a norm? Are we grooming our children to become depressed, or at least think that they are? Pills are a short term solution for a permanent problem.
Just know that if someone you love or even if it’s just someone you know, suffers from any form of mental illness, it’s a hard fight to fight. Please be caring, and understanding. The most important thing you can do is love the person and be there when they need you.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the national suicide prevention hotline.