Stress can be insidious, because it usually builds slowly in our lives. As we grow up, we take on one challenge, then another, social obligations pile up, responsibilities, bills … then, life shows us her teeth. Unfortunate things may happen, on top of everything else, which has already been stretched so tightly and worn so thin.
When I started to open up about disordered eating and body image, I learned that shedding light on the darkest corners of my life can help shed more light on a path to healing for myself and others. In the hopes that opening up about depression will do the same
Throughout this week, we aim to encourage communities to explore what hope means to them by exploring their own definition of hope, what it can look like, and experiencing what it can inspire you to do. These hopeful discoveries can be used to incite positive change while nurturing empathetic and compassionate conversations about mental health.
A notification from the hospital lab slides across the screen. His test results are back. Hmmm. Lithium level not great yet, but at least nudging at the therapeutic range. Okay.
Twenty-five years ago, or so, I received the basic stamp of “anxiety” and “depression” from some doctors doing what they could with a fifteen-year-old girl who didn’t know what was going on. In fact, my initial diagnosis came after six to eight months of checking for heart problems, anemia, food allergies, and “period problems.”
As a child, I suffered from a panic disorder that went undiagnosed until I was 25. Because no one knew what was wrong with me, everything was wrong with me. Every symptom I displayed was labeled and classified as something else: learning disability, perfectionism, insecurity, processing disorders, hypochondriasis and on we go. I struggled with a self-criticism so intense I became trapped and stuck inside its horrifying whispers.
Now, that Jackie is in a better place, she has begun looking into work possibilities. However, the task is daunting, especially because she fears losing her government benefits, which provide a small but steady income per month and most importantly coverage of her schizophrenia medication, which is essential for her health. Since eligibility for these benefits can be affected by income, Jackie doesn’t want to risk losing those benefits because she knows staying healthy is critical.
My own belief is that a brighter future entails less stigma, more respect for the field, stronger evidence-based research and practice, and greater accessibility to services for all. Maybe then can we truly begin to release the burden that mental illness places on our society.