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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Mental Health Awareness Month: My Current Journey

Our mental health can change and shift, as it has for me over the years. It’s a process of conquering one battle, and a then days/weeks/months/years later stepping up to another one. The road from a toxic mind to a healthy mind isn’t a quick and clean journey. It’s a process… and it’s messy. But it’s a battle worth fighting.

I’ve dealt with depression on and off for decades. Some of you were with me as I shared my battle a few years ago. I went through lots of healing and breakthrough, and had a few really great years where I didn’t struggle with my mental health.

Yet, with a background of depression, there are some dark and deep lies that seemed to settle in my soul. Lately these lies seem to carry over every area in my life, and had become crippling. Simple, everyday tasks and responsibilities had become difficult and incredibly tiring. 

While I praise the Lord that I’m no longer suicidal, I had dealt with some pretty crippling anxiety over the past year. I was constantly going through the motions of life while feeling like I was one hiccup away from an anxiety attack. I had dealt with anxiety in the past (depression and anxiety go hand in hand often), but never to this level. It had reached a new height where I recognized I needed outside help. And that was okay. 

My chest constantly felt tight, shoulders tense, and at times I had to put some serious effort into slowing my breath so I wouldn’t hyperventilate in the middle of making tacos for dinner. I had to put immense effort into slowing my mind and racing thoughts. Sometimes I’d lock myself in my bathroom for a few minutes just to count and breathe. I’d lean up against the door, close my eyes, and start counting while slowly while inhaling and exhaling. 1… 2…. 3… 4….

I called my counseling office, and was put on a waiting list. I forgot I was on the waiting list until I got a call a few months later. I almost decided not to take the appointment, because I had been having a good couple of weeks. I am so glad I took the appointment.

My counselor has a way of unlocking deep rooted lies that I’ve carried in my soul that have been bleeding into every area of my life: wife, mother, daughter, doTERRA leader, friend, church leader. We’re digging up roots of some serious negative beliefs, and replacing them with the beautiful truth. I’m slowly working on starving the toxic thoughts and nurturing the healthy ones.

During the month of May, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’d love to share more on my mental health journey. I’ll be giving specifics on how I manage depression and anxiety with things like counseling, running, taking my supplements and other homeopathic measures, and opening up to some trusted friends and family about my current struggles. We’re not meant to fight this battle alone. Thank you for joining me on my recovery to freedom. You’re not alone either.

Got questions? Or maybe you’d like to see me cover a specific topic pertaining to mental health? Comment below, I’d love to connect with you!