I am 36 years old. I am a nurse, a daughter, an auntie, and a partner who has struggled with anxiety, depression, and ADHD for a long, long time and I’m here to speak out. To end the stigma surrounding mental health diagnoses.
Who? You? Nah…
“But you’re so outgoing!” “You don’t look depressed.” “Just stop thinking about it and you’ll feel better.” I’ve heard these and countless other words of advice over the years. Yes, I am outgoing. Yes, I don’t “look” depressed. And yes, I would love to stop these intrusive thoughts, but that’s thing, they are intrusive and creep in anyways!
It Pays to Be Honest
I am an open book when it comes to my struggles; I’ve left concerts I’ve been excited for, hid in bathrooms at family parties, and on more than one occasion had to get out of the grocery store as quickly as I could. When I finally decided, with a little push from my significant other, to finally get the help I needed it was TERRIFYING!! Would they take me seriously? Are they going to think that I’m attention seeking? Are they actually going to help me? I was so anxious about being anxious that I was spiraling and in tears even before the doctor came in.
There is Help
Now, I am lucky, my doctor is wonderful and she took everything I said honestly and sincerely. She told me that yes, I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression and that it was not uncommon. She set me up with counseling services and medication and it was LIFE CHANGING. GAD and Depression are part of who I am and they always will be, I have bad days (or as I lovingly call them, couch days), but I am kinder to myself about it.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health and we need to start treating it that way. We need to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues. We need to improve our mental health delivery system. We need to make services more accessible, more affordable, and much more inclusive.
Most importantly, YOU matter. If you are struggling, reach out. If you see someone struggling check in. You never know the difference it can make.