College is a time filled with stress. This stress is easily amplified by pre-existing mental illness, such as depression and anxiety. For someone suffering from these illnesses, certain points in our lives can get overwhelming. Everything seems hopeless, and the end seems nowhere in sight. During one of these points in my life, I decided to admit that I was suffering from a mental illness, and I decided to receive treatment for it. I have since been on different medications, along with counseling, in an attempt to “get better.” While I still struggle when times get rough, I am so much better than I was before.
Even though this made such a big difference in my life, I have only told a handful of people about my illness and my medication. It is something that I have been ashamed of. I felt like I was weak and I would be judged and considered insane. I was afraid of the reactions people around me would give, but how unfair is this?
Cancer patients openly go through chemotherapy.
People with muscle or bone issues go to physical therapy without keeping it a secret.
When you have the flu, you don’t have to feel ashamed to go to the doctor and get medication to make you feel better.
So, why do I have to feel ashamed for going to a trained psychiatrist who can prescribe me medication that will help me feel somewhat normal, teach me how to cope with what I’m feeling and be able to properly function with less difficulty?
About 14.5 million people suffered from cancer in the United States in the year 2014.
Approximately 43.8 million adults suffer from a mental illness in any given year in the U.S.
Additionally, 1 in 25 Americans have a mental illness that prohibits them from living their lives.
However, of these 43 million people and more only 41 percent of them had the courage to receive medical attention for their mental health issues.
Cancer is nationally publicized. We have walk-a-thons, sell pink ribbons and raise awareness of prostate cancer. Heck, I even have a sticker on my car that says, “Feel your boobies!” in support of breast cancer awareness. While I will support this and don’t believe cancer should receive any less support, I do believe that mental illnesses deserve just as much. People suffering from a mental illness should be able to feel just as comfortable with seeking treatment as someone with any other illness.
There are tons of people who can’t leave their house without touching their doorknob exactly 17 times. These people are our friends, our siblings, our co-workers and our family and that number doesn’t include 14-year-old me, who couldn’t go to school because of her illness, or the countless other teens feeling the same way.
There are others that feel the same way you do. You do not have to fight this battle alone. If you have a sickness, you aren’t expected to suffer from it and hope it goes away on its own. Likewise, you are not expected to suffer from your mental illness on your own. There are people who have spent many years in school and training simply to help you. Don’t let the fear of what people may think of you keep you from being happy and more comfortable. This is your life, not theirs, and the help that you receive can change your life.
I am not ashamed that I had to receive help. I knew that I simply could not keep living the way I was, nor should I have to. I knew that I could not help myself. I knew that, despite the stigma and judgment I might receive, it was necessary. So, please, do not ever feel like you cannot ask for help. Do not ever feel like you cannot receive the medication or counseling you need because you will be judged. Do not feel like you are weak. You are so strong for the fight you have put up, and you are even stronger to have the courage to help yourself. Please, do not ever, ever, ever feel like you are alone. Because I, as well as the 43 plus million other people in the world that suffer the same way you do, are there for you. You are not alone, nor will you ever be. Get the help you need. Don’t be ashamed.
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You are incredibly brave and courageous for sharing your story as there is no longer a need to hide our mental illness. 1983 I was a senior at SHSU and diagnosed with Clinical depression; because of that I had only ten hours to graduate and I did not because I was not able to get out of bed and go to class. For years I hid my depression, anxiety and OCD from everyone until last year I had a major depressive episode and voluntarily checked myself into a psychiatric hospital, then it was no longer was a secret. Today I have to be vigilant about my illness as people with MDD can and will relapse. Keep getting all of the support, love and stay vigilant.
Thank you so much! It means so much to hear that others struggle too. Support is such a great tool when it comes to mental illness. Thanks for sharing!