10 Stories About the Realities of Mental Health
It has slowly become more “normal” to talk about mental health issues in today’s society - which is a huge positive step forward. But it still seems that there are so many misconceptions and stereotypes out there about mental illness. What does anxiety mean? What does depression look like? What role does mental health play in suicide? What are the effects that mental health have in relationships, daily life, etc? There are many different experiences out there, and at Holl & Lane it’s always been important to us to not shy away from those stories. They may be hard to read at times, but the truth is - 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. So it’s something that needs to get talked about and if you’re reading this, you either suffer from a mental illness yourself or know someone who does. We can’t understand something without truly knowing about it. And in sharing these stories, we hope to spread more awareness and compassion about mental health struggles. Remember - you are NOT alone and what you are going through is OK.
Here are 10 stories from women who are getting real and honest about the realities of mental health.
When we think of taboo topics we often think sex, abortion, and religion. However, we often forget that the matters of the mind can also fall into this category. Mental health has been stigmatized time and time again and it is about time we made a change. The media lately has ensured that more awareness is being raised and more people continue to speak up about their experiences - yet somehow revealing our deepest thoughts still seems forbidden, it still feels wrong.
Ten months into the best relationship of my life, I freaked out. I remember the moment it happened too - as if a switch was turned on and I needed to get out now. Thoughts like we can’t do this anymore; how do I know he’s the one; we have to break up were repeated over and over in my head like a broken record.
Alcohol made me feel alive and cool and part of the crowd. It was not until a close friend hit a tree head on after drinking and driving that I was able to put the alcohol down.
Throughout history, mental illness has been romanticized as much as it has been vilified, with every great intellectual seemingly blessed and cursed by a biochemical imbalance.
I come from a tight-knit family. We love each other deeply and keep in touch, whether via text or in person, often. So, when one member is hurting or celebrating, the rest of us feel it right there with them. Last fall, three huge events happened in our family’s life that were met with a strange mix of joy, grief, and fear: I gave birth to my first child, my oldest nephew passed away two weeks later, and my mom – our rock – was diagnosed with a serious case of bladder cancer two months after that. To say my emotions were in overdrive is an understatement.
On October 8, 2016, my life abruptly changed. The man I’d loved for more than 15 years took his own life. I was shocked, devastated, and lost in a sea of emotions while simultaneously trying to collect myself enough to face my two small boys, who were nine months and three years old. It was a moment that induced a fog that I had never experienced before. I have heard it described as “widow brain” but it was much more than that. It was the detachment and numbness that happened while trying to process my new reality, but it was also all the sadness, confusion, anger, and hurt that came with it.
I wasn't officially diagnosed until I was 31 years old. My symptoms had gotten so bad that I knew I had to see a doctor about it. More specifically, my husband told me that he was worried about me and that it might help to go see someone. After one 50-minute session, the doctor said to me, "You are the textbook definition of someone with depression and generalized anxiety disorder." I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't formulate a response, so I just looked at the floor, tears filling my eyes. She prescribed medication for me and told me to come back in three weeks.
Despite what many believe, asking someone if they are thinking about killing themselves actually doesn’t influence or increase the likelihood of someone attempting suicide. In fact, it can actually be what stops a person from making an attempt and I’ve witnessed the power of this conversation firsthand.