Take a seat- I have something to say about mental illness

13 Aug

You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to. ~ Robin Williams

I’m going off book today. I try to keep my real life and NerdLush separate but I think today it’s okay…

Earlier this week we lost a comedic treasure. Robin Williams had been a force of nature throughout my life. I can remember watching Mork & Mindy when I was a wee little one.

Robin Williams 1951-2014

There are very few “celebrities” whose lives actually affect mine but the passing of a few have rattled me- Christopher Reeve and Princess Diana are just two that still make my heart hurt.

We aren’t a big site- and we don’t have the resources to be out chasing stories- and I won’t join the masses who spread rumors… no matter how much we “know”, we’ll never know the whole truth.

So let me step away from Robin Williams and simply look at mental illness.

One of the major issues in this country is the stigma placed on mental illness. In the past, there has been a “put it out of sight” mentality. Take someone who is suffering and send them away. Or even put the blame for why they are suffering on something else- like a medical issue. Or Substance issue. And you know, substance issues are a problem- I am anti-drug; that includes recreational use, but I don’t judge (just don’t use around me)- but they are often an approach to treat a mental illness.

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Unfortunately, we maintain the stigma until something happens- like a school shooting, terrorist act (not only referring to something like 9/11- Oklahoma City was a terrorist act, too) or a public breakdown (let’s be honest- Amanda Bynes has made great positive progress since being sent to treatment last year). Then there is a national outcry for changes.

Which dies a quiet death all too soon.

I read a tweet the other night that basically said that celebrities don’t reach out for help because they fear it being broadcast. The same is true for non-celebs. The stigma we’ve attached to mental illness keeps many from being willing to even try getting help. There’s a cultural stigma, as well as a gender one. Many men see seeking help as a mark that they are less than a man. I have been working in this field for a few years and probably 90% of my adult clients have been male; for the record, my adolescent clients were almost even at something like 45% male. Yet there is still a gender stigma. And there are cultures that look at what I do as no better than witch doctor magic- in fact, some would rather see a witch doctor than ever seek a psychologist/therapist.

So what am I trying to say?

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Essentially this- mental illness is an ILLNESS. It is something that affects EVERY HUMAN BEING on the planet, whether you recognize it or not; whether it is diagnosable or not. I guarantee that at some point you have suffered symptoms of depression or anxiety. Were they diagnosable? Probably not. So we need to get rid of the stigma attached and make people comfortable with seeking help. We need to be there for each other. We definitely need to stop looking the other direction. We need to learn to listen!

It shouldn’t take the death of celebrity to make people care about others!

Below, I am posting info for the suicide hotline and mental health. Personally, I have these up on my fridge. People give me strange look because of that but I think it is better to be informed.

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