I grew up in a very rural area of the Midwest with few mental health resources. I lived with my mother who had the optimistic view that my depression was just normal teen stuff.
I think it took my suffering and screwing up in big ways for almost a decade before she realized that I wasn’t just a sad teenager.
Now that I am almost 30, she communicates with me more about the darkness, seeking metaphors and trying to have an understanding. But a lot of the damage has already been done. I recently found out that I have ADHD with increasingly worsening symptoms which have compounded the reach of my depression and anxiety. She eventually told me that it was suggested to her by a family member when I was a young child that I might have ADD, but she remained in denial and I’m now 29 with a clearer understanding of who I really am for the first time.
I have health coverage through my employer, but still cannot afford counseling to the degree that would be life-changing for me. I am where I am today because of the problematic stigma and lack of awareness surrounding mental health conditions.
Several times per day it crosses my mind that maybe I'm just not cut out to achieve the goals that my innate drive almost doesn't give me a choice but to pursue. Facing that internal contradiction repeatedly throughout a day - a week - a year - is torture. And that’s not even when it is at its worst. That’s not when the voices are telling me to not only give up on success, but life altogether.
I've spent a lot of time surrounded by people who denied that there was nothing Vitamin B and exercise couldn’t fix. The effect? I am stubbornly passionate about mental health care and resources, but afraid to be outspoken. I don’t want to hurt the feelings of my parents who might be sensitive to feeling like they let me down. I refuse to be judged by people who might be on their way to being more conscious of mental health issues but would inevitably treat me differently or exclude me from opportunities from which I could benefit personally or professionally.
I feel like two people. Who I am – and who I am supposed to be.
Through my tumultuous teenage years and into my adulthood, subconsciously I've gravitated toward and fallen into incredible, creative friendships with other people who suffer like I do. What is too obvious to some, and not obvious enough to others, is that the polarizing nature of our culture has failed us to the extent that the greatest resource we have is our solidarity. And too often, even that is not enough.
That is why, though the masses may be shocked by the suicide of a beloved public figure, they are not shocked by the heavy sighs of understanding and waves of compassion that follow.
There are more people now than ever - myself included, that are intricately aware of lives that have been lost because we as communities, as governments (big and small), and as a nation of people, have failed to do the first thing we should be doing: taking care of one another.
One of the lives lost in this battle was one that I was close to. He was a gifted pianist, a treasured friend, and an elementary school teacher with a solid reputation in the community. June 15, 2017, he passed on. Those close to him know that he still had faith that we could get there someday. His obituary called for donations to NAMI, and in his name, at every opportunity I have, I call to raise funds, awareness, and action. Because solidarity is not enough for us.
Submitted by: Kansas
The struggle of a constant and incessant internal dialogue is so common in those with mental health disorders. As "Kansas" states in their story, they feel like 2 people...who they are and who they are supposed to be. When your heart, mind, and body aren't in sync, the concept of growing, moving forward, reaching goals and being successful can seem so out of reach.
Resources that work can often be so incredibly expensive. So it comes as no surprise to me, because I see it a lot in the world of entrepreneurship, that people finding connection with others who are fighting the same demons can be the next best thing. Supporting one another, yet trying so hard to support themselves. "Kansas" is correct in stating that solidarity isn't enough. Care for those with mental health disorders needs to be accessible to all, not just those with deep pockets.
I commend you for being so passionate about giving hope and resources to those who are also having a difficult time with this psychological struggle. And I can't begin to thank you for sharing such a personal part of your journey.