Having a panic attack onstage in front of everyone changed my life forever because it taught me that fear doesn’t kill you. But it altered me in another way too. I’d been hiding behind a persona for so long, I’d resigned myself to keeping my panic attacks a lifelong secret, but being exposed in that way broke a pattern, and it set me free. The exposure of my fears brought people closer to me, it didn’t keep them away, that’s what a persona does.
When you have mental illness, you can’t just pick up and keep moving. Sometimes you are sidelined. And when you are, it can be devastating to feel like a failure on top of the actual symptoms you are experiencing. There is a line we have to walk in this space.
By: Sheryl J. Families of those suffering from brain disease often do so in silence. I lost my 22-year-old son last year after he turned to street drugs to numb the symptoms of depression and anxiety. In order to give life to his memory and meaning to his life, I…
Within that framework, there is a danger that suicide becomes presented as a ‘selfish’ action, addiction as ‘indulgent’ and depression as ‘dramatic.’ We need more people who suffer with mental illness and addiction to tell their stories, if they are willing and able. We need the real narratives of mental illness and addiction to both challenge stigma and to impact the policy and public health approaches that are implemented.
It’s the first word that seems to come to mind when we are feeling that things are occurring too much, too fast, and / or too confusing to absorb and manage. We just simply say, we’re “stressed out”, “under stress”, or “too stressed” to handle it. When we are feeling such immense stress, we generally, and ultimately, don’t take the time to slow down to truly identify all that is happening in our minds, our bodies, and our spirit at those moments.
Of course, the first thing that comes into play is the stigma. The number of times I’ve heard someone say, “I’m so OCD!” the pop culture meme for explaining away control issues. At this point I’m aware of how social stigma functions, so I won’t be letting it get me down. Still, it’s out there in spades, pushing the self-stigma triggers ever more so, prompting mindful response over knee-jerk reaction. Dealing with another diagnosis is challenging enough without letting stigma derail my quality of life.
“I focus on creating now, instead of destroying myself. My stitching gives me a reason to keep going, to keep fighting. I have to finish so many portraits,” she says of the benefits the stitching process provides for her mental health. “I start something to bring comfort to someone else and it ends up bringing comfort to myself. It’s like a circle. By helping others I’m helping myself.”“I focus on creating now, instead of destroying myself. My stitching gives me a reason to keep going, to keep fighting. I have to finish so many portraits,” she says of the benefits the stitching process provides for her mental health. “I start something to bring comfort to someone else and it ends up bringing comfort to myself. It’s like a circle. By helping others I’m helping myself.”