Some people may be wondering why I’m doing this. Why share my challenges so publicly? And honestly, sometimes I wonder why I want to do this too. But then I talk to someone and realize how little information there is and how much shame and secrecy still surround mental health issues. Here is example of a recent conversation:
A few weeks ago a very well educated, kind and knowledgeable person asked to pick my brain.
I don’t know her particularly well, but I was curious. So I said yes.
She started off by saying a good friend of her family’s had a nervous breakdown 3 months ago and was even hospitalized briefly. This person had been dealing with a lot of family issues, including medical challenges, plus young children in the home and of course, normal work related stress. But now, 3 months later, he doesnt seem to be getting better and even showing signs of regressing. She said they met up recently and she found herself feeling very uncomfortable and concerned.
I was a little concerned as to what this had to do with me, or what she was hoping I would say.
But eventually she just said, she just didnt know what to do, how to help or even what to say to him or his family, and in my mind, all I could think was ‘why don’t you ask him?’.
But of course it wasn’t that easy. Basically she wanted help in trying to understand what was going on for this person and how she could be more supportive. She was concerned about offending that person by asking the wrong thing, or seeming judgemental or unsupportive by bringing something up that they may not be ready to discuss. And she came to me because she knew I was open about talking about my own depression and anxiety, as well as the fact that my husband has been living with PTSD for over a decade.
So once again I was reminded, if this woman is feeling lost and she is educated and well connected socially, I bet there are a lot of other people feeling lost too. But it doesnt need to be this way. We have the ability to change how we talk about it, to stop the whispers and secrets. If we just talk about it like we would any other medical condition. No one feels the need to hide the fact that someone in the family broke their leg, or has asthma, so why do we need to hide if someone is clinically depressed or diagnosed with PTSD? Once we can do this I believe we will see a significant shift in people getting the appropriate support much sooner and it will ultimately lesson the devastating impact it can have on families and communities.