I do see a psychologist. Is there still a stigma about seeing a doctor for mental health reasons? To me, the answer is yes and no.
I would say “yes” because I would not want my co-workers, for example, to know that I am on a leave of absence for mental health reasons. I would be far more forthcoming if I had something of a physical ailment like a heart condition or (God forbid) pregnancy, but when it comes to revealing a personal struggle with depression and anxiety, it’s hard to foresee people being receptive to the notion. I think a lot of people are still ignorant of the truly debilitating and sometimes life-threatening nature of mental illness.
On the other hand I am actually pretty open with friends and family about what I’m going through. I am not ashamed of having become aware that I was unhealthy. I am certainly not ashamed of having sought help. I’m even eager to share with others about my experience with this heavy stuff, but what I have to share is more hopeful than dismal.
Depression had a way of forcing me to acknowledge things that were making me unhappy, and in turn make changes to try to overcome my symptoms. If I hadn’t had that breakdown, would I still be self-medicating in an attempt to drown out everything in my life that bugged me? I think so. The truth is I was in a rut, and now I am hopeful and looking forward to life and the positive changes I intend to make, like having started this blog!
I see a therapist because I’ve found that talking things out is particularly helpful to me and helps in self-reflection. In film maker Woody Allen’s movies, he called therapists “analysts.” I initially thought that was kind of funny when I saw the movie Manhattan, but now I think the term may just be outdated; so far I have been lucky to have had two therapists who made it a point to focus my treatment on getting better and treating the underlying causes of my depression. “Analyzing” is not really in play as much as one might think.
I am hopeful that maintaining this blog will give me a sense of stability in having a daily habit. I intend to write about a wide variety of topics, and mental health will probably be something that comes up now and then, but for these first few posts I just wanted to share a little bit more about myself.
Hopefully being open about what I’ve gone through might help to remove some of the stigma surrounding mental illness.