If you have ever experienced a time in your life where nothing seemed to feel right, or you just couldn’t understand what was happening, and you thought you were losing your mind, Glory Be! You are not alone. If that time in your life has gone on and on for years now, take heart, you are not alone! For the past several years, that is right where I have been. Right there with you, all alone, afraid, depressed and ultimately doomed into an endless life of absolute misery.
For those of you who have never felt that way, it may sound like I’m a Hollywood drama queen! I can see why though, because that’s exactly what it looks like on the outside.
Mental illness cannot be physically seen, or simply tested for an absolute diagnosis. It cannot be compared to any other illness. And, unless you experience it yourself, it cannot be understood. Even for people, just like me, who struggle with it, it is impossible to understand. What I have learned over time, and with tons of treatment, is that trying to understand why, how, what, when, wh-… trying to understand, takes you further into that turmoil you already feel.
Do you believe in mental illness?
If you’re hesitant to answer, keep reading. I will attempt to show you how real it truly is. Not only do I believe that mental illness is a diagnosable disease, I have seen and experienced for myself how it affects the lives of those who suffer any form of it. It affects their performance, relationships, and ability to function at the most basic level. If my word and experience isn’t enough, here are some helpful statistics on the topic. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 4.5% adults in the U.S. are affected by severe mental illness. Out of that percentage, 7% are women my age who become so hopeless that suicide becomes a common thought, or even a dream-like fantasy. In 2007, among the top 15 causes of death in the U.S., suicide ranked tenth. Claiming the lives of over 34,000.
Suicide is not the only tragedy caused by mental illness. In 2002, the indirect cost of mental illness in the U.S. was $317.4 billion. The loss of earnings for those who could no longer work was $193.2 billion! Only $24.3 billion was distributed in disability benefits.
These numbers are huge! How could that many people possibly choose to forfeit their income or even their life to a disease that the general population continuously overlooks? There is an unspoken stigma that hovers over the mentally ill. Why?! … After reading those statistics, do you have any desire to get up and act on them? Do they make you want to “cure” mental illness? … Chances are, you probably don’t have a passion to advocate for it just yet.
I do. After intense treatment and years of therapy, I am finally hopeful! I find hope in knowing there is a definition behind my psychotic behavior. That it’s more than just “depression”. I find hope in knowing that there are hundreds of thousands of others out there that know exactly what it’s like. I find hope in having the opportunity to show them how I chose life! And even more-so that it was totally worth it!
Choosing life this time around was the last chance I had left in me. If you are there. Ready. Choose Life! Know you are not alone! I will stick right here with you for however long it takes! You will survive this battle in your mind. I believe you will!
If mental illness is foreign to you, it’s OK for you to ask questions! Make yourself at home on my blog. I am willing to talk about it on any terms at any level of understanding. Many people may be thinking the same thing you are, but don’t know how to ask or where to start. Be bold and ask without hesitation. No one will be offended by your curiosity. I promise! If anything, your interest will be far more encouraging than you could ever imagine!
My hope is to start an open conversation about mental illness. How it affects our everyday lives. Sharing the struggles it brings in relationships. Inspiring each other in small victories. Empowering each other when it gets out of control.
So, choose life and I hope you join the conversation. 🙂