Many people dealing with mental illness fail to get adequate treatment. This can be for many reasons including embarrassment, failure to report symptoms, lack of a diagnosis, a belief that they can get better on their own, etc.
Many don’t recognize mental illness as a disease. Even people who suffer from it don’t realize that it is a disease that can be and should be treated.
There is a mentality that someone struggling should be able to fix it on their own. They think they don’t need medication, counselling or a doctor. They believe if they just try harder to be happy, things will get better.
If your doctor told you today that you had diabetes, would you try to fix it on your own? What about cancer? Would you refuse treatment and try to fix it yourself?
So, why do we do that with mental illness? It is a disease just like cancer or diabetes. It can be life-threatening if not treated. So why do we feel we have to do it alone?
I think it has to do with our society’s view of mental illness. People don’t see it as a sickness in need of healing. They think it is their fault that they feel that way. Some people believe they deserve it because of something they may have done in their life.
I used to cry out at night asking what I did to deserve this pain. I begged for forgiveness, and promised I would be better.
But I didn’t do anything to deserve my depression. I am not being punished for some past crime. I am not suffering because of something I did or someone else did.
I have a disease.
It is NOT your fault that you are depressed or anxious. It is called mental ILLNESS for a reason. It needs to be treated.
I know there are many times during my depression when I have experienced guilt or been angry with myself because I had no reason to be depressed. My life is good; I have food to eat, a comfortable bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, people who love me, people that I love, and I would feel guilty for being so miserable.
I took on the blame for my depression.
I can’t do that. I can’t control my depression anymore than my dad can control the fact that he has diabetes. He takes medication, watches what he eats, checks his sugar daily and keeps his body fit and healthy.
I do everything I can to stay healthy too. I take medication to balance out the chemicals in my brain. I go to counselling, I see my doctor regularly, I exercise , I eat healthy, and I am open about what I am going through. That is my treatment for my depression.
I fight hard to stay healthy, but there are times when my depression takes over. And that’s ok. I have an illness that I cannot control and it is ok that I get sick now and then.
For those of you who are suffering, please stop blaming yourselves and putting pressure on yourselves to fix it.
For those of you who know someone who is suffering, don’t blame them for what they are going through. Understand it is beyond their control and give them grace through difficult times.
And get treatment. You can’t do it alone. It’s a horrible disease and you can’t fix it on your own.
I have taken medication for 14 years. I am not ashamed of that. Without my medication, I would be dead. I could not survive my depression without the treatment I get.
I also recommend counselling. It is the BEST treatment! I think everyone should go to counselling regardless of whether they have a mental illness. It is such a healing process to have someone help you dig into the depths of your soul and discover who you are, how unique and beautiful you are.
And through that process you also learn more about your illness, your triggers, why you lack confidence, things that have hurt you, people that have hurt (many times people have hurt you more than you realize), and the more you learn, the easier it is to stay healthy.
I know what caused my depression. It is a chemical imbalance in my brain that I was born with. For you, it may be a traumatic event from your past, or a situation in your life right now, or, like me, an illness you were born with.
I know what can trigger my depression. I know the time of year that it tends to get really bad. I know eating healthy helps my body fight my depression. I know exercise helps fight it. I know counselling helps fight it. I know surrounding myself with loving and supportive people helps fight it.
I know these things because I got treatment. I accepted help from doctors, pastors, counsellors, family and friends. And I learned about myself and my disease.
I can’t do it alone.
Neither can you.