Hello and welcome to another edition of #TransparentTuesday! (Imagine I just read that sentence to you in some crazy announcer voice.) During #TransparentTuesday, we remove the rosy filters of social media and share real life.
Today upon the sad news of the death of Robin Williams, I wanted to focus #transparenttuesday around mental illness. I share these personal thoughts/stories in hopes that we can remove the stigma from discussing mental illness.
My first visit to a psychologist was at the age of 10. My first suicidal thoughts came at 14. I've been on medication for depression ever since then. It would take both hands to count the numbers of medications I've tried throughout the years to manage my clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
To read a longer version of my story of depression from a few years ago, check it out here. Since that post, I've transitioned to another therapist (I swear, it's like dating), and am on a different set of medication. It's something I have to constantly stay on top of.
I would hide my anti-depressants as a teenager and hope that none of my friends would find out I had to take a pill and go to weekly therapy. When I got extra moody, my mom would ask: “Did you take your medicine?” Despite her intentions, it made me feel horrible – like that pink pill was supposed to make me “normal.” Over the years I have learned that missing doses can really affect my mood in horrible ways, so that “Did you take your medicine?” nagging pops in my head every so often.
After 15 years, I have stopped feeling ashamed for having to take these pills. I go to my therapist regularly. I went today, actually. Sometimes I only need to go once a month, sometimes once a week. Sometimes there isn't anything pressing to talk about. Other times I walk in there with a list. I go in for regular checkups on my medications, and have periodic dose adjustments or even medication changes based on how things are going.
Mental illness takes hold of people across all socioeconomic levels, and does not discriminate. As we've seen with Robin Williams, people who seemingly “have it all” can be affected. You can't make depression go away with money, things, or even medications. You can only work on managing it with the tools you have.
A great resource for more information on depression or other mental illnesses is NAMI – National Association on Mental Illness:
Learning the signs and treatment options about depression and other mental health conditions is a place to start, as is reaching out to a trusted friend or family member or listening and offering help and hope to someone in need. If you are or know someone who is struggling with depression or a mood disorder, you can contact the NAMI HelpLine at [email protected] or at (800) 850-NAMI for information and tips. And if you or someone you know is in a crisis, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).