It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, and we’re here to speak out. In support of #MIAW, both our Editorial Adviser and one of our authors bravely share why they’re #NotAshamed.
If you’re reading this, we want you to remember how brave you are. You are strong. You are needed. And you are loved.
#ImNotAshamed of being diagnosed with depression and anxiety because it has made me know and understand myself on a level I would’ve never thought possible pre-diagnosis. In all actuality, the three years since my diagnosis have been the happiest and most productive time of my life.
Having an “invisible illness” has helped me develop a genuine empathy for people. Even the happiest people on the surface can be struggling with inner turmoil.
I’m also not ashamed because I know that so many people in the history books for their achievements struggled with mental illness. So many great writers, speakers, artists, and entertainers, both from the past and contemporary, have struggled with mental illness. Not to mention the countless number of everyday people with a mental illness succeeding in life. That success is inspiring and contagious. – Brett
In 2008, around the time my Grandfather died, I began getting feelings – both mental and physical — I couldn’t pinpoint. They eventually snowballed, leading to the most difficult experience of my life. It was severe anxiety.
If I hadn’t told those closest to me about it then, I’m not sure how things might have turned out. And that’s why #ImNotAshamed to talk about my anxiety.
2008 and early 2009 for me was almost impossible to describe, though I tried to do just that in the piece linked above. And that’s part of the reason why there’s often a stigma attached to those who have dealt with or are dealing with anxiety. And when a stigma is attached to something, it can be hard to talk about it.
But if you think you’re dealing with severe anxiety, the best thing you can do is talk to those closest to you about it. It’s not something you’d ever want to battle alone, nor is it something you can conquer alone.
You need to discuss it, address it and perhaps get treatment for it. Again, those are all things that often come with a stigma attached. But they shouldn’t.
When I was dealing with my anxiety, there were lots of friends who were incredibly supportive, but there were also some who simply didn’t understand what I was going through. They would ask me why I couldn’t “just stop” when in the midst of an anxiety attack. They’d tell me to “relax,” which would of course result in the opposite happening.
It’s not that anyone is being malicious when making comments like the above, it’s that they simply don’t understand anxiety since they haven’t dealt with it before.
Extreme anxiety can be unbelievably scary. If you’re going through a serious attack, it can mimic a heart attack. Although it won’t kill you, it feels like it might. It’s impossible to explain what it’s like to have those feelings and those thoughts at the same time.
#ImNotAshamed to have shared this, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it and address it if severe anxiety ever happens to you. – Danny
Learn more about Mental Illness Awareness Week at www.nami.org/miaw.