I’m proud of BringChange2Mind for helping to end the stigma of PTSD, which has lingered in my family long after my grandfather’s death in 1967, when I was a 7 year old boy. This is the first time I, or any of my family as far as I know, have ever shared this story outside of our family inner circle. It has hovered over us in many, many ways and still exists. End the stigma!
When I think of those who battle mental disorders I think of the word ‘fly’. If you watch a bird in the sky they have pure freedom. That freedom is key and is what fly means to me. The ability to have pure freedom to be ourselves in a world that is constantly trying to change us. The ability to not be perfect and express it. That is my goal in sharing my story. I am not afraid to show my flaws or ashamed of my past. I want others to be able to tell their stories without fear or judgment.
Through my years of traveling with post traumatic stress disorder and major depression, I wrote a lot of journal entries. Each word represented an aspect of my life at that time. I kept one of those journals, and, on occasion, I like to open it up and remind myself how far I have come. The journals were beneficial in my life during my travels with PTSD and depression because they helped me to see the various aspects that triggered worse outcomes or made them better.
Today I wanted to write to those who support the ones who are fighting. Whether it is depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, or any of the many mental health disorders there is much to be learned. So if you are a solid rock by the side of someone who is fighting then I pass on these words of advice to you. I speak from the perspective of a person who has fought the battle and the person who now helps someone else fight it.
People assumed that since I worked in medicine I had an abundance of support, but to be honest I believe I felt more pressure to keep my dark friend hidden. There is even a stigma that exists in the medical field because mental health disorders still come with a lack of understanding and fear. They are not necessarily something you can see with an ultrasound or view under a microscope, so it is that unknown that causes misunderstanding.
As a registered nurse of 17 years I have worked with many patients who had a mental health diagnosis, but had I not looked at their chart I would have never known. I cannot even count on my two hands how many patients I have cared for whom were struggling. The fact of the matter is they are out there and by being silent we close a door that needs to be open.
Be emotionally honest. If you are having a dark day or difficult time do not deny it entry into your spirit. By doing so you are only putting off the inevitable and could be making it worse. We live in a world where happiness is advertised on every street corner, but they should simply be showing us how to embrace it all. Emotions are meant to exist.
No one ever asks for mental illness to enter his or her home. I certainly did not ask for the moment that brought PTSD and depression into my spirit when I was younger. So many days when I could barely get out of bed or moments where tears were all that I knew. I remember the day that one of my therapists introduced me to running.