Starting the conversation

Mental illness has been talked about in my school but for the most part only in almost non-existent whispers. I believe that starting the conversation needs to be done and which is what I hope to continue to do within the community. For some reason being honest about what we are dealing with is frowned upon when really there is something extremely powerful about sharing our personal stories.

One in five people will experience a mental illness over the course of their lifetime. And of those who do say that they feel ashamed and avoid seeking treatment because of the stigma. Families, too are embarrassed and blamed. Friends don’t always understand or have the right words to say. How can you comfort your friend is in emotional turmoil that you’ve never experienced, so you just watch them suffer and pull away from the person you used to know.

In the obituary’s, we always see the courageous fighters of those who lost their battle with breast cancer or other rare diseases, too. We almost never see the picture of a girl who was going through so much pain, there is no picture of a brave, intelligent, young woman who couldn’t see any more hope to keep pushing through the dark pit of depression. When there is a segment about teen suicide on the news, there is sadness and sorrow in the atmosphere. Until something like this breaks the news, we do not like talking about it. Plain and simple. But it still remains the most common subjects that most of us avoid speaking openly about.

It is crucial to have champions who talk about mental health and mental illness. Personally, I find that there also is power in recovery stories. Stories have to capacity to change both the storyteller and the listener. People who tell their personal story of mental illness are modeling recovery. These people are standing in blunt contrast to the negative public images of mental illness and of the mentally ill, too.

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