The Choice is Yours

pick-this-one

Hmmm, well, no. Actually that is a mountain and medication… Shit is what you step in when you aren’t careful while walking around in nature. Shit is a biological process that helps eliminate waste from our system. Everyone poops… I think you get the picture.

This meme showed up in my Facebook feed yesterday. Initially, I wasn’t sure how to react. At first I thought I should just scroll past, as I’ve been doing with so many negative posts lately. However, I noticed how many people were ‘liking’ the picture, which led to me reading some of the comments. Then, the anger started to rise up in me. This! This ‘innocent’ little meme. This, right here, is part of the problem. This is the stigma against mental illness. This says all the wrong things. This says mental illness is a choice. This says I just have to get up and go outside. This says I’m wrong, I’m shit, for needing medication. The original post had thousands of comments and I did not read all of them, for obvious reasons. It did seem, however, that most of them were positive which was good to see. A few people had some great alternative meme’s.

Like this one:

fixed-the-medicationnature-picture

So, where do I even begin with this? I’m guess I’m glad it was posted and that the original post is mostly filled with positive comments. It provided an opportunity to speak up about mental illness and the stigma attached to it. But what we’re up against here is big. When will mental illness be accepted and viewed the same as any other illness? It starts with this. It starts with people telling their stories, being brave enough to take the chance. It takes pioneers willing to lead the way. Not everyone is going to be able to do that and that is okay. Lend your voice anonymously if you can. Share your story with me and I will tell it with confidentiality. Challenge people. Encourage people to ask questions and engage in positive dialogue. I think it’s critical that the world see us as we are. We are regular people. We aren’t monsters to be feared.

I was thinking of how I could explain mental illness in a way that would be helpful, easy to understand, less scary than the world likes to picture. Let’s suppose I have placed 20 people with autism in a room. You will see some similarities. But you will also see many differences. They all have the same diagnosis, but vary widely in their characteristics. Some will be taking medication, some will be monitoring what they eat, and some will be participating in activities that will help them be more comfortable, healthy and happy.

Lets fill that same room with 20 people who have diabetes. You will see some similarities. But you will also see many differences. They all have the same diagnosis, but vary widely in their characteristics. Some will be taking medication, some will be monitoring what they eat, and some will be participating in activities that will help them be more comfortable, healthy and happy.

Now let’s fill the room with 20 people who have depression. Will you see monsters? No! You will see people. You will see some similarities. But you will also see many differences. They all have the same diagnosis, but vary widely in their characteristics. Some will be taking medication, some will be monitoring what they eat, and some will be participating in activities that will help them be more comfortable, healthy and happy.

Is that simple enough? It seems pretty clear to me. People without illness have a choice in how they view and treat people with illnesses. People with any kind of illness don’t have a choice in what cards they are dealt, but they do have choices in how they want to manage those illnesses. Not everyone needs medication, but some do. And it is okay. It is a personal choice that should not be condemned, especially by people who have no idea what it’s like to live with mental illness. I want everyone who is struggling with mental illness to know that I am going to accept you, support you and encourage you, no matter if you choose medication or not.

Depression, along with any other disease, illness, or disability is not a choice. No one chooses any of these things. And though we may share the same diagnosis, we do not all fit into the same box. I have had clinical depression for over 20 years. During that time I have been on and off medication. There have been times when I have been able to manage it without medication. I appreciate those times. I have the ability to participate in the strategies that I need in order to stay healthy, including spending a lot of time in nature. But, because depression is not a choice, it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain, there are also times when it becomes too heavy. And during those times, I appreciate the fact that I can choose to take medication. That means I am taking care of myself. That means I am making myself stronger. When I am in a major depressive episode, I can’t possibly go out and spend time in nature. I’m lucky if I can even get out of bed. Or when I cry while I’m trying to fall asleep, and I wake up crying, or I can’t choke down my food because I’m crying. What should I do then? Are you going to come over and pick me up and wheel me around in nature? I doubt it. But if you do, make sure you bring Kleenex because I’ll still be crying.

I’m going to keep fighting for myself. I’m going to keep fighting for everyone experiencing mental health issues. I’m going to keep fighting to end the stigma against mental illness. I’m going to keep fighting.

~Till I Collapse~

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36 thoughts on “The Choice is Yours

  1. Wow, this is really powerful. It speaks to me on so many levels. I had people telling me I just needed to get out more, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. At the same time, I was on drugs for pain, depression and a whole pile of things. I now have my life at a happy medium where I am getting out more, exercising more. I am still taking medications but not as many and have added a lot of natural products into my regimen. I hope things work out for you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you could relate. And I’m glad that your medications are helping you. Some of us need medication in order to even get out of bed. They can give us the leg up so that we can start working on more strategies to heal. I am in the same space as you. Taking meds for pain and anxiety, and it helps me to be able to do more of the things that I enjoy. Best wishes for continued healing ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this! I think it’s because people can’t see it. You can see a broken leg on an xray. You can see a Brain tumor on an MRI. Perhaps if you could “show” people mental illness they would stop thinking it’s as simple as being sad all the time, or simply overthinking.
    I haven’t even told my siblings because they don’t think it’s a real thing. They just see I’m no longer weird and withdrawn, but actually I’ve been on meds for almost a year.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re absolutely correct. It is considered (in most cases) an invisible disease. I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis, another invisible disease. When people see you looking okay, they assume you are okay. This is part of the reason behind my blog… bringing awareness to all invisible illnesses, mental or physical. I hope you can find someone to talk to that will understand and support you and I’m sorry that your family is unable to be there for you. That is really hard. Please take care of yourself ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much! I have built up a support network over time, and my parents have bought into it lately, so that helps a lot!
        Thank you for the support! Keep raising awareness! Bloggers are what brought my parents around. So I promise you are reaching people.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post and well written. Just so you know, you sent a kind comment to me the other day and for some reason when I went to answer it, while typing, it disappeared. Sorry about that. Thanks for visiting and happy we made the connection with regards to PTSD, trauma, and migraines. Hugs to you. Deb

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a fantastic post! I cringe inside when I see “funny” posts about acting OCD about something. I have fought depression and OCD my entire life, and I can assure those people that there is nothing funny about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a really well written post. Nature is not enough for me…I need tablets too. I feel no shame in taking meds. People will always have opinions on psychiatric meds but I know without mine I wouldn’t have survived my suicidality. I like what you’re aiming for I’m this blog and how you write 💪👍💕

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I just get annoyed that people often have such strong feelings about stuff they know little if anything about. My problems are distinctly biological and neurological so not taking meds would be pretty ridiculous. I love nature but it’s not enough to stave off a panic attack or suicide attempt!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Exactly! I also love nature and you’re right, it’s not going to help if you’re feeling suicidal or in the middle of a panic attack… or are so depressed you can’t even get of bed!. We know ourselves better than anyone else, so keep doing what you know is best for you! Sending you my love ❤

          Liked by 2 people

  6. All very well said, thank you for speaking out, it matters, especially when you write so clearly.
    I think the problem with depression is that superficially it looks like many other emotions – sadness, apathy, laziness – and people know those emotions, so they assume depression is the same. I try and explain it by saying that emotion is like the lapping of waves when you’re standing in the sea, it can unsteady you, even knock you over; but with effort you can right yourself again. Depression is like a tsunami that picks you up and throws you around the ocean, so that you don’t even know which way is up, let alone stand. Medication just calms those waters enough to let you find your feet.
    No idea if that makes sense to anyone else but me though!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Love this, great post! I’m with you… this is a big reason why I speak out as a mental health advocate. I speak out to help end the strong stigma, to help educate, and to help people with mental health conditions that they aren’t alone and they can get help. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was timely! I just recently started taking medication for severe depression and CPTSD. Today a well meaning friend mentioned that maybe the medication is helping because it could be a placebo effect, and either way it doesn’t matter as long as it is helping me. This was in response to me mentioning that my therapist was explaining to me that the brains of someone with PTSD look different than people who do not have PTSD. And that depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain. I have struggled immensely over being able to face the reality of being diagnosed with both of these. And I have struggled immensely over making the decision to take the medication. So this comment left me feeling that they were potentially questioning my depression. I have already been isolating myself because of the pain I struggle with. This only hurts me and makes me want to isolate myself more. I don’t know why comments like this are okay to say to someone with depression. No one questions people on medication for other illnesses or their need for it. It certainly doesn’t make it easy to talk about.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Right on! That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make. There shouldn’t be any question. If medication helps you, then it is the right thing to do. I recently started back on my anti-depressant medication too. Like I said in my post, I was at the point where I was just crying all the time, for no particular reason. I think it’s due to all of the turmoil related to politics, it’s just too much for me. And you are right… brain scans show differences in people with mental illness. It’s real. The meds may not make going to make everything go away, but it can make you feel well enough to work harder on other strategies that will also help (like going for a walk outside). For some people, it’s a way of jumpstarting our brain. I hope that you start feeling better soon ❤ Stay strong ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The medication is helping me. I also was crying every day. It doesn’t take the pain away, but it does help you to not be crushed by it every second of every day. Unfortunately I have been living with depression for years untreated. It is not an easy road out of the crippling effects it has had on my life. It sounds like you are dealing with the same. Thank you for sharing this post. I hope you are finding relief as well!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I am dealing with the same. My depression started as “reactive depression” when I left my abusive ex. Medication worked really well then. But, the depression stayed and has been with me for about 20 years. Over that time, for whatever reasons, medications stopped working. I now have one antidepressant that will give me relief temporarily. It’s weird, but it works for a while, then stops working. So, I have to go off of it for a while, then restart. Not fun to have to go through the side effects while my body adjusts to it, but I keep focus on the future and know that relief is coming. Hang in there – sending you my love ❤

          Liked by 2 people

            1. It is. Going through the withdrawals is just as bad as enduring the side effects while my body adjusts. And when I’m already feeling so bad, it’s even harder to get through the side effects. But I know they will go away and that some relief is on the way – keeping my focus on the light ahead ❤

              Liked by 2 people

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