Seriously tho, Is It Just Me?? (A look into the mind of mental illness)

I don’t blame you because I get it. The reasons for your disbelief are complex and multi-faceted. For some of my guy friends, it’s the culture of “toxic masculinity” that tells you that “real men” don’t cry, let alone have depression. “Yeah right, ‘depression’ sure ok.”

The culture of toxic masculinity is killing our boys and men by the way, but that’s a topic for another day.

For others, you simply will always believe mental illness is nothing more than a character flaw. You will readily believe that something in your brain can go wrong causing you to develop Alzheimer’s. You accept that neurons can misfire and cause dementia or schizophrenia. You break out the science jargon when explaining the “love chemical” oxytocin. And you’ll accept that soldiers can get PTSD from watching women and children die. But depression? Anxiety? PTSD in a non-military person? Suddenly things change. Suddenly anybody that claims to have depression is just “sad” and needs to “get over it.” Depression is just “lack of will power. Laziness. Not praying enough.” “Everybody gets sad sometimes. Just be happy.” Someone having severe anxiety really is just lying, or is weak. You’ll say, “My dad used to beat me within an inch of my life. And I turned out fine.”

To that I say great. Fantastic. Your brain isn’t misfiring. Your fight or flight response doesn’t get stuck in the on position. Wonderful. In truth, our brains are more powerful than any super computers. And sometimes our super computers fail. Yet you won’t believe that those very same super computers that invented geometry and theoretical physics can go through a traumatic experience, trigger a predisposition, misfire, and cause depression or anxiety, or that something other than war can cause PTSD. Just like bad habits can trigger heart disease, so too can trauma trigger mental illness. facebook_1405970536714Something turned on that switch for me, and not for you. That’s all that happened.

***Mental illness is even more complicated than we know! We are learning more and more every day. It’s real, it’s complicated, and it’s not a matter of simply “being weak.” This theory states that neurogenesis, or the creation of neurons, helps cure depression. Furthermore, that the reason SSRI’s work might not be due to raising serotonin levels, but rather in promoting neuron growth! Or this study that shows how stress in your environment can lead to inflammation in your body, which can lead to brain changes and the development of mental illness.

This study shows that anxiety might be inherited from your parents and actually changes your brain right from the start. Finally, this study shows how environment, background, brain function, and stress hormones can all overlap and lead to depression and other mental illness. The point here is that mental illness is real, real complicated, and can’t be simplified down to “being weak.” We just don’t know, and are learning more and more every day.***

But it’s not your fault that you don’t believe. Your life experiences and your brain’s wiring have led you to a place where mental illness isn’t real. And that’s alright. I’m just grateful for my ridiculously supportive wife. My family. My friends. My friend Dese’Rae, creator of Live Through This, which focuses on suicide attempt survivors. Jenny and #TheBloggessTribe who also gave me the courage to finally finish this effin’ thing and post it, albeit under a relatively anonymous blog.

Mental illness can feel overwhelming. Debilitating. Terribly lonely. You will feel like you’re the only one going through this. Nobody else gets it. You, and only you, has experienced pain like this. But that’s not true. Millions of people around the country have broken brains. Hundreds of millions around the world.

life-is-a-beautiful-struggle

You’re #NeverAlone

And the good news is that you can do something about it. And no, I’m not talking about praying it away or smiling it away. Not talking about “just be happy, lighten up. It could be worse.” Can’t hurt to pray or meditate. But it won’t cure a mental illness. No, what we can do about it is that we can talk about it. On a macro level, we can bring awareness. Awareness and facts. Remove the prejudice and bias that many in society have against mental illness. Show people that we’re not crazy or “just weak.” And on a micro level, we can talk to mental health professionals, and we can take SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). If we choose not to do that because we’ve heard it fails for some or makes things worse for others, there are other options and ideas. We can realize and accept that this is real, not our fault, and is fixable. It won’t be easy. When depression tells you that all you want to do is stay in bed all day because “why bother?” or when anxiety makes you afraid of everything, it won’t be easy to get the help you need. But you can do it. One step at a time.

you-go-motherfucker

I have faith in you ❤

As for me, all I can do is lean on friends and family when the darkness comes, keep taking the meds, see the shrinks, and hope the clouds stay away until they don’t.

If you are having a mental health crisis and need someone to talk to, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

What’s been your experience with mental illness? How does it manifest in you? Or maybe in someone you love? If you’re comfortable sharing, leave a comment below. And share this post if you think it’ll help anyone, if only in that it might help them to know they are not alone.

(well this felt good. Who knows, my 70 followers might get another blog entry in 2017 just yet. 🙂 )

***EDIT: After consulting with several mental health advocates, a doctor, and even a neuroscientist, even more info/links were added to this entry as causes for mental illness, showing how biology plays a role but also environment and experiences.***

#sicknotweak #depressionlies #TheBloggessTribe #NeverAlone #mentalillness #ptsd #stopthestigma #suicide #depression #anxiety #EndTheStigma #BeThe1To #ReasonsISpeak #StopSuicide #EndTheShame #EndTheSilence #AFSP #TalkingAboutIt #IKeptLiving #longreads #LTT #carriefisher

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19 Responses to Seriously tho, Is It Just Me?? (A look into the mind of mental illness)

  1. hashtagpanic says:

    Pffft a choice. Like that feeling of dread and nausea I had earlier today was because I got on the wrong side of the happy train! Lord!😐
    xo, another broken brain! Lol!!

    http://www.hashtagpanic.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LunaMarie says:

    This is fucking amazing. So many times I have that same litany: Cheer up. You have your health (um not. My brain is broken). This from family. From Dr.’s: oh let me give you this pill. Take one every four hours and you’ll be fine. Except it screwed me up worse. Made my paranoia explode. Made my anxiety feel like def con five. From friends: get therapy- get help get normal or we’re not your friends anymore. So done with this shit.
    Thank you for writing this.

    Like

  3. AdeleVarens says:

    Reblogged this on Red Ink Ramblings and commented:
    I haven’t been able to write, because the shit going on in my head the past few weeks has had me in a state of numb existing. But it’s getting better. In the meantime, however, this post says so much that needs to be said. It’s long, but it’s worth the read.

    Like

  4. Sophia Ball says:

    This was wonderful. ❤

    My inner anxiety voice: "Don't comment that. That's stupid. This is a serious subject. You're calling mental illness awareness 'wonderful'? Seriously?

    Me: "That's not what I meant. He'll get that."

    Inner anxiety voice: "But, taken a face-value, can you argue that those words in that order aren't inappropriate? No."

    Me: "It'll be fine."

    Anxiety: "No it won't."

    Me: "Fuck you."

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tom says:

    You write “…but ultimately, I can’t change anybody’s mind. And that’s ok. It has to be. I can’t vanish the negative bias people have around it. Not by myself”………”You either believe it’s a real thing and that I work my ass off every day to function as a stable human being, or you don’t”

    What YOU can do is this…. you can write (and you write very well), you can post, and you can educate on any level that you are comfortable doing. And you CAN, actually, change some people’s minds. By what you do and write, you CAN. Possibly. Help someone, or motivate them to seek help elsewhere. And that possibiliy should keep you motivated.

    You are right! You cannot, and should not attempt to do it all. You do it one article for groups like this (or in other media), or you do it one person, one family at time. That’s the way I approach it in my work in Guatemala… and you know what? Sometimes you hit the jackpot and affect a whole bunch of people, and you do your work over time (Guatemala started in 2002)…. and you realize “Holy Crap, I’ve affected a lot of people!!”

    Keep on doing what you’re doing. One person, one day at a time. This is an outstanding article. It’s working. You can tell just by reading these responses. Write more!

    Like

  6. makaylaplus2 says:

    I can tell the time, care, and love that went into this post. Thank you for speaking it, thank you for sharing.

    Like

  7. I can see the weeks and months (and years) that went into this essay. As a fellow tribe member, thank you for giving firm to so many of the villains that hoard premium space in our brains every day.

    The virtual world is a haven in many ways, as you mentioned, a haven that allows us to pick the face we want to share. I suppose I knew that, but you depicted this gift/curse accurately, and I hear the gentle reminder not to let the virtual world deform the actual me, or the me that others see.

    As a guy, my efforts to ensure I’m seen as a “guy’s guy” often leave me hiding from the world for weeks at a time when I’m less than the persona I think I’m supposed to be.

    Well… this has clearly become a long and rambling comment. But I hope you see this as a testament to the strength of ur message (rather than my tendency to ramble after a prolonged and isolated funk) a message that, for awhile at least, reminds me it’s ok to be crazy.

    Thank you and hope u keep writing

    Like

  8. Bethany says:

    Love this, love you. I struggle as well.

    Like

  9. Robyn Hand says:

    I love this. I have dealt with ptsd, anxiety and depression practically my whole life, and was so used to people saying “you have depression, you’re not mentally ill” that I actually said this to my classmates in a peer program several years ago. I have been in either group or individual therapy practically my entire adult life, and it’s taken me a long time to deal with all the labels people put on my struggles. For a long time I focused solely on my physical disability, and ignored what it was doing to me mentally. It sucks having to deal with all of what I’ve been through, but I like myself most of the time, and I think I’d be a different person if I hadn’t gone through what I have. I’ve met some of the most incredible people who have had similar struggles, and I don’t know what I’d do without some of them, so for that I’m forever grateful.

    Like

  10. Kathryn says:

    Words cannot express how powerful your post is. You’ve perfectly captured the frustration I’ve felt in almost every relationship in my life. Always keep fighting for yourself. Your tribe is with you. 💙

    Like

  11. jen says:

    The only reason I am a functional human being is because I take a pill every morning and sometimes at night. Without said pill, I cannot get out of bed and I cannot function. PERIOD.

    It’s incredibly fun being a devout Christian and suffering from anxiety/depression because I get asked if I’ve prayed about or if I’ve tried meditation.

    NO!!!! I TOTALLY DIDN’T THINK OF THAT!!!! HOW WONDERFUL OF YOU TO SUGGEST IT!!!!

    Like

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