“We want to let people living with mental health challenges know that they are not alone, and we’ve got to be making sure that we’re committed to support those fellow Americans, because struggling with a mental illness or caring for someone who does can be isolating,”
– Barack Obama
I write quite a bit about my observations of the world or ways in which I’m starting to gain a foot hold in my battle against anxiety. I also write about things I’m doing and new habits I’m forming but I don’t write a lot about my anxiety and how it affects me throughout the week. I’ve decided to make Fridays “Mental Health Friday”. I may write about myself or an article I’ve read, I may write about a friend or a fellow blogger (I will never mention names unless this person says it’s ok).
I was thinking about the stigma of mental health issues and was poking around on the internet when I found the above quote from American President, Barack Obama. This is not a blog about politics, it’s just a quote I could relate to.
I like to read various ADHD forums online. It is always so hard to see a parent of a child who is recently diagnosed with ADHD or even an adult themselves, who feel like their lives are over and don’t know where to turn for help. This is because our society has made ADHD out to be a bad thing and it carries a stigma with it. I’ve often told people that I consider my ADHD to be a good thing. After all, there’s nothing I can do to change this fact. It is something I live with, that is a part of me but it doesn’t define me so why should I feel like it is a bad thing? I speak freely of it and tell my friends and co-workers about it. I try to educate people with facts when they try to spread much of the misinformation that is out there.
Anxiety is another thing that people try to hide. Why hide it? For years I didn’t realize why I had these terrible feelings and many people thought I was a loose cannon or simply crazy. They didn’t understand why I could be so happy one minute and in a panic, getting loud and being difficult the next minute. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with anxiety in 2005 that it started to click in my head why I acted in such a way. It took another friend being diagnosed and being open about it that got me to make an appointment.
It wouldn’t be until just a couple of years ago that I started being more open, myself, about my challenges. I started talking about it on social media and my wonderful wife followed suit and started being open about my anxiety and her bipolar as well. It helped me and our friends to be more patient and work through this. Jesus said, “you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” I’m sure he wasn’t talking about mental health issues but it felt so freeing to tell people the truth. Just as I have always been open about my ADHD, I was now open about my anxiety.
The best part about being open about my mental health is that it’s helped others connect with me. They too have their struggles, they cannot believe I deal with anxiety and they are happy to not be alone in this challenge. While many of them are not as open, a feeling I understand and will support them, they have found someone safe that they can confide in and discuss ways to deal with it. I’ve learned a lot from them as well.
I’ve heard that what you put out in the universe will come back to you ten fold. When I talk about my anxiety issues and how I deal with them, and as a result my friends come to me, that is how I get my returns. The exchange of advice is my reward, as well as the friendships it creates. The returns are far more meaningful that one small act of mentioning my challenges.
If you are dealing with mental health issues, whether it be anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, depression or any other disorder, please speak to someone about it. Talk to your friends about it, see a doctor and communicate with your doctor during the treatment process to find a treatment that works for you. A better life is out there, you just need to be shown the way.
Free yourself of the burden of hiding it as well. There will be far more people who support you than those who criticize you. The more we talk about it, the more education we can get out there and the less stigma it will carry. While I am not a doctor and am not qualified to treat such conditions, you are always welcome to speak of your issues in the comments or email (my email address is in the side bar in the about me section).
Be well. Be positive.