Yesterday I heard something in a podcast that left me furious.
A woman and her daughter were telling the story of when the daughter was having suicidal thoughts and was brave enough to ask for help. Instead of receiving real support and aid from the medical professional they turned to, the girl was referred to a hospital. Once there, she and her mother were trapped in a small waiting room, until a bed could be found for her at an inpatient facility. They were then passed into the custody of a police officer who delivered them to the facility.
At the youth crisis center she was sent to, the girl was traumatize, and stripped of her agency and identity. She was separated from her family and even her mail was read before she could see it. She was forced to share her personal thoughts and feelings with a bunch of other kids who she did not know. All the while, not being allowed to speak with anyone of the opposite gender and deprived of all physical contact. She was not even allowed a hug or a high five. The "coping mechanisms" taught were all cheesy and impersonal, but also mandatory if she wanted to be allowed to leave.
This girl was only 12 years old. It is astonishing that a child her age would have the self awareness to understand what was happening to her and the courage to turn to someone for help. In return, she was treated like a criminal and is now being bullied by the other students at her school.
This girl is a hero. After everything that happened to her, she asked to go on her mother's podcast to share her story, because she understands the importance of it. In spite of everything, she still wanted to encourage others to seek help when they need it, and holds out hope that they will actually get it.
To me, this story is an illustration of one of the problems we are facing in this country. The stigma associated with mental illness causes people with those illnesses to be treated as if they are not even people anymore. Those of us with mental illnesses are made to feel shame; like it's somehow our fault.
Rationally, I understand that I have no reason to be ashamed of my depression. My mind just isn't working the way it's supposed to. Still, I have a hard time talking about it with anyone. I even have a hard time sharing my blog posts on Facebook, because my friends on Facebook are people I actually know. Well, no more. No matter what, I refuse to continue feeling ashamed. I refuse to keep hiding what's happening to me because someone else might think worse of me for it. That doesn't mean I'll be talking about it all the time with everyone I know. In spite of having this website, I am a generally private person, but I'm not going to be afraid to talk to my friends about this.
I have depression. I don't like it, but that's the way it is. For the rest of my life, I'm going to have to make sure I am doing what I must, to maintain my mental health. As of right now, I am able to do that without medication, but I need to accept the fact that one day I might need the extra help it provides. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Anyone who thinks that I am less than them or weak because I have depression...well, quite frankly, you can all bite me. I neither need, nor want your approval.