I recall watching television ads about depression that seemed to stigmatize the illness. They only seemed to showcase certain people, genders or age groups that were dealing with difficulty of balancing everyday life.
I remember thinking how the commercials were meant to encourage those depressed to get help, but were so darn depressing themselves!
Lately, I have been encouraged by the articles and blogs I’ve been reading, the commercials and interviews I have been watching and the general conversations that have been going on throughout communities.
It took awhile, but mental health is starting to cross boundaries.
This has taken a lot of advocacy. I lot of courage from those affected by mental illness.
Unfortunately, it has taken the unnecessary loss of many lives.
Fortunately, the lives lost were attached to a greater purpose. If we continue to speak, to advocate and spread the message of hope and healing, our loved ones lives will not have been lost in vain.
This is exactly what I’ve been seeing lately. Not only are family members and those going through or been through depression speaking out, but famous, well-known and highly respected individuals have also been sharing their stories about battling a mental illness.
There boldness and courage have been reshaping mental health. Just as we ‘ordinary’ people have to deal with the agony of sharing such private and delicate issues with our family and friends and wonder about the repercussions, those who we admire from a distance also have to deal with the same fears. They have to take this risky step wondering how it will affect their reputation and if their fans and colleagues will view them differently.
It is a risky step for anyone.
Let’s be honest. No matter how people might say they support you are congratulate you for sharing something they don’t understand, initially, they view you differently. They might not intentionally mean to. But you can tell by their new looks, new conversations and new attitude that your relationship with them has changed. They now treat you as though you are fragile and incapable of making any decision, minor or major, for yourself.
Yes, it is a hard pill to swallow.
But if you continue to stand in your truth and weather the storm, it will get better. And not only will you be better for doing so, you will help break mental health barriers for others who are watching you.
So my hats off to those like Oprah Winfrey, former NFL player Lawrence Jackson, actress Emmy Rossum, singer Lady Gaga, Disney actress Demi Lovato, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, singers Kendrick Lamar and Alicia Keys.
The list continues. (Check out the Spring 2016 edition of Esperanza)
These stars humbled themselves and used sharing as one healing strategy. They also allowed others in their circles or on their platforms to take a leap of courage just as they did.
But what about you?
YOU, who have been fighting this battle for awhile.
YOU, who are restrained by fear and shame.
You might be considered ordinary, but you are something special. No ordinary person is able to conquer their fears and fight to live and not just exit.
It takes all of us to continue speaking in order for more barriers to be broken and boundaries to be crossed. Keep speaking!