Mental illness. The words have stigma attached. No one wants to admit there’s an issue. I’ve found myself doing it too…
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend. We were having a conversation about depression and mental illness in general. I told my friend that I take medicine daily for anxiety. Then I followed it up with, “well, apparently it’s because of my jacked up thyroid. The doctor said that if I hadn’t been taking it, he would have put me on it. I was treating the symptom before I knew what was causing it.”
And you know what? Later I realized that the reason I added the addendum was because I didn’t want to say that I had an issue. That I have anxiety. That my mind races over and over and over again and I can’t stop it. No matter how much I pray for it to stop, to slow down, to just chill…it doesn’t. And it sucked. For a long time.
My relationships with women have never had longevity. My closest friends I’ve met in the last 10 years. I always thought I had a problem. I had two sets of friends at different times in my life turn their backs on me because they didn’t agree with a choice I had made. It hurt. All of the relationships recovered, but over the years they faded…and some never recovered to what they had been. It hurt.
Those moments hit me as I’m driving home from work. There’s a lot of time in the car…and as I sit here, I think that this could be a part of the reason why I don’t like silence. Where there is silence my brain likes to talk…and it’s not always talking nicely.
The last few months I have been in a downward spiral. Too many thoughts…nothing that is detrimental…but I let laziness take over. I gave myself a pass because I was tired. I am tired.
This past weekend I was at a Coach Summit (some of you might have seen just a few posts – sorry about that;) in Nashville. Shaun T spoke on one of the days and I was floored. He shared something extremely personal from his past. Something I don’t know that I would’ve had the courage to share had it been me…but then again, maybe I would have, because here I am writing this post*.
He stated that admitting the problem was only part of it… Sometimes you can’t move forward unless you’ve divulged everything. For me, it was thinking about all of the conversations I’ve had with friends and co-workers where I felt like I was justifying the medicine I’m on…where I let my thoughts define me. When I let them defeat me.
I have been feeling God leaning on me lately to do more in certain areas of my life…to encourage and provide help in some way to those suffering from the ripple effects of mental illness…It could be depression, it could be anxiety, it could be so much more that I’m not aware of yet.
Praying our issues away is not always the answer. Sometimes we need something to balance it out…sometimes that’s medicine…and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter if there’s a reason that’s causing the illness, what matters is that we are doing something about it.
The more we share what we are dealing with the easier it’s going to be to find answers…Similar to AIDS back in the 80’s, I feel these are the years where we will be able to learn more about mental illness because we are talking openly about it, despite the repercussions. I’m okay with the stigma… because it won’t be a stigma for long.
The theme at the Coach Summit was #strongereveryday. We have to take it day by day. I can talk myself out of doing something because my brain always tells me I’m a failure…but I’m not. I’m a child of God and a miracle in itself when you really diagnose how children are created…I’m not going to waste this miracle and neither should you. Let’s be encouraging and let’s dig in and find a way to eliminate stigmas in general.
I’ll start…will you join me?
*Watch Shaun T’s talk here.