Mental Illness Myths: Shedding Light to Spread Support

I’ve heard so many myths about mental illness over the years. I’ve experienced well meaning people say some things on the topic that simply aren’t true. Mental illness is a tricky thing… it’s hard to understand unless you’ve experienced it firsthand. My heart behind this post isn’t to bash anyone who has ever fallen trap to these myths. My intent is to shed light on the issue so we can all learn how to love and support our loved ones struggling with mental illness.

Myth #1: Anyone with a mental illness needs medication. This simply isn’t true. I think medication has a time and place, but it’s not for everyone. I know many people successfully working through their anxiety, depression, ect. without taking a pill to do it. I have personally been on medication in the past, and it helped for a season. However, I don’t have the need to take it now, and I’m taking other measures towards healing. I’ll be sharing my top tools in another post soon.

Myth #2: Anyone who talks about their own mental illness is seeking attention. You know how some games have a buzzer that the opposite team pushes to know they’ve gotten a question wrong? It’s loud and obnoxious and makes a bbbbeeeeaaaaa sound? Yeah, I would push the buzzer on this one. Sure, a handful of people have done this. But, as someone who works in the field of psychology, please listen to me when I say: It’s still a cry for help. So, don’t just roll your eyes at it. Encourage that person to seek the help they need.

Most of us that talk about our mental illness are just trying to break the stigma. We’re also trying to let others with a mental illness know they’re not alone. It takes some serious courage to share about this delicate issue,  and we could all learn from each other’s experience.

Myth #3: Mental illness is a choice. Now, stick with me on this one, because I need to unpack it a bit. Did I choose to have depression and suicidal thoughts  at 12 years old? No, I did not. However, I did choose to go 15 years without ever getting help. I was a kid, and I was scared and ashamed of my struggle. I carried that fear and shame into adulthood. I now realize I let those lies rob of of potential freedom. 

I didn’t choose depression and anxiety, BUT I do believe I can choose to let it consume me, or get in front of it. Treatment will look different for everyone, and I know there are things I can do to keep my mind in a healthy state. Again, I did not choose depression and anxiety. I do choose to fight it. I can fight it, get in front of it, and move closer and closer to healing. You can too. 

Myth #4: You can snap out of it. Y’all, I am so over this one. People that I love dearly have said things along these lines, and it hurts. You can’t simply snap out it. If you’ve struggled with a mental illness for a good amount of time, you’re going to need time to heal. You’re going to need time to go to counseling, find those lies and replace them with truth. You’re going to need time to learn your mental triggers. You’re going to need time to learn how certain foods and chemicals affect your mental and physical state. Healing is possible, but you don’t snap your way there. You walk your way there, one step at a time. 

Myth #5: Once you have a mental illness, you’re stuck with it. I see this myth more with people that are managing their own mental illness. I personally believe someone can be completely healed from their mental illness. I truly do. I believe it will take work, counseling (good counseling, y’all), a will to fight, and a lot of prayer… but healing is possible. The process with look different for everyone, but the end result can be the same. 

Ok, folks, those are my top 5 myths I come across in the area of mental illness. I’m sure you’ve heard your share of lies too along the way. What is a myth you’ve heard before about mental illness?

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Not A Pretty Post

I have to warn you before reading this… this is not a pretty post. Not one bit of it. It’s dark and reeks of death. The only reason I am posting it is because I feel that it may help some people better understand what it’s like to battle with depression. It really is a battle for one’s soul. This was written about 3 weeks ago, and praise the Lord, since then I’ve had a good 3 weeks. Honestly, a couple days after this post I was able to feel more balanced and quite “normal”. So just know I’m doing great now, but for those of you who may be curious on what’s it’s like to fight with depression, this gives you a look at about a 5 minute window when depression won for the moment:

depression-1 Photo Credit: denvercounseling.com

It feels like the walls are closing in around me. It can start with something small. Like today, I feel like I got nothing done, and didn’t get everything on my to do list done so therefore I feel like a failure. I feel like if I can’t even watch my baby and get my house cleaned then what good am I?

I hate that when the baby is in bed and I stop for one second on the couch that my mind instantly goes to that familiar place. It’s not a good place, but it’s at least a place I know. In some sick way I find comfort there. In the darkness. In the midst of my lies surrounding me… eating away at my soul and my joy. Telling me I am failing at every aspect of life: a follower of Christ, a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur, a housekeeper, a daughter, a sister… the list goes on and you get the point.

And it all started because I stopped. This is what happens when I stop. When the house gets quiet. And I hate it. But this is my life, my everyday life. There is this looming cloud of darkness that threatens me all day long and as soon as I let me guard down when no one else is around me, it overtakes me. The darkness seeps into my mind, heart, every vessel of my being and I hate that I can’t shake it. I hate that these disease called depression has this power over me.

My family deserves better. That’s how I rationalize my thoughts of suicide and my dreams of death. While some people fear death, I embrace it. I welcome death. Really, my family does deserve better. They deserve a mom that is able to get through the day without crying over not completing her to do list. A mom that doesn’t lose her patience and her temper. A mom who isn’t irritated every day. A mom who can manage to keep the house clean and the laundry at least in 1 pile instead of 17 piles scattered throughout the house. Most importantly, my kids deserve a mom who wants to live, and right now I don’t. Right now I want to die. I want to take ever single pill in that bottle of Zoloft and just go to sleep for a very long time. Then my family will be free of me and can find someone else that can do life much better than I can.

I warned you! I know, my heart hurt just reading this! I actually forgot I had even written this a few weeks ago and just stumbled upon it. Without even thinking, I was editing my poorly written document that I had even password protected in an attempt to hide. I seriously had no plans on posting this, but here we are… This is real and this is a part of my life.

Again, I’m really doing a lot better now, but you must know I am not the only person in your circle who feels this way at times. I am thankful that I always have my God to turn to for strength during these times, and honestly knowing He has a purpose for me is what gets me through these dark times. I’m also blessed with family and close friends to lean on during these times, but I know this may not be the case for everyone. I want to encourage you, if this is you, please get the help you need. Talk to a counselor, your physician, or even a trusted friend, but stop trying to do this on your own. We were created for community and relationships… to do life together, not just the Facebook-worthy parts of life, but the messy and grimy parts too.

So let’s get real. I would love to help you any way I can and join you in prayer as you or a loved one fights a mental illness. Comment below and please know I am battling in prayer.