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Getting Real About Mental Illness

Talking about it to end the stigma

When you have mental illness, you can feel like a ghost

My daughter has mental illness.   I am open and honest about it, and am not afraid to bring it up in conversation.  I noticed when I talk about mental illness, it can make people very uncomfortable.  I remember my Mother talking about my Great-grandmother’s “female trouble”, and how she died from it.  60 years  ago, people didn’t discuss cancer, and if they did, it was whispered about behind closed doors and hidden, but now,  its discussed openly. My Great-grandmother died from cervical and ovarian cancer.   My daughter has depression and extreme anxiety and nearly died of suicide caused by her illness. I’m not ashamed of it.  I will talk about it to hopefully  enable someone else to talk about their child’s illness. 

She used her blog, AllyDelMonte.com to talk about her mental illness and hopefully help others. Talking about it helps her, as part of her therapy and medical regime. This is what she wrote recently when abou her mental illness in a crowd of teenagers: 

The other day, someone asked me something. In a non-malicious way, a new friend had asked me- “How are you able to be so open about your mental illness? Aren’t you scared sometimes that people are going to judge you for it?”

I was able to explain it to them but I thought maybe I would share it with you all, too.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

I’m not ashamed of the fact that I have depression and anxiety. It’s a fact, it’s an illness. I treat it with medication and proper therapy and I can keep it under control. I will never be ashamed of it. I’m not afraid to tell people I have Lyme disease, just the same as I’m not afraid to tell them I have depression. Though different, they’re both treatable illnesses.

If someone wants to judge me on having depression and anxiety, they aren’t the type of people I want in my life. I’ve had my fair share of friends who didn’t “get it”, told me that I just needed to get over it and stop being nervous, stop being sad, that it’s all for attention even after I’ve tried to calmly explain why it is I feel the things I do sometimes. Those aren’t my ‘friends’ anymore.

I don’t want people in my life that are going to treat me as a joke, act as if it’s embarrassing when I speak about my own mental health.

Lastly, I talk about mental illness and I speak of it so casually, because not a lot of people will. Like my friend Whitney said, Living life with mental illness can be living life in a Ghost Story. Slowly but surely it’s getting better, but we still have this stigma behind mental illness. It isn’t embarrassing, it should not be a taboo topic, it should be something talked about and recognized by more people as actual illnesses so we can treat them, and spread awareness to what they actually are. Education should be spread.

I also speak so that if someone else is struggling, they won’t feel so alone. Maybe if I talk about it to someone they can open up and understand that they may have an issue, or they see it isn’t only them struggling. They can see how I went from such a dark place and came out of it. I want people to see they can achieve things and do what they want even with these illnesses.

Every time I speak about my mental illness, I help end the stigma.

I like to keep it real, and I’ll be the first to admit that my anxiety as of late has gotten much much worse. I was recently hospitalized for a week, paralysed, with Conversion Disorder. It isn’t something that just goes away but it can get better. With extra therapy and medication, I am so much better. My depression is better, too.

My new friend understood, and actually thanked me for speaking about it. But the conversation we had afterwards about it was so rewarding, being able to help someone feel a bit better about their own illnesses and feel a bit of hope, it’s all worth it to me.

Getting help for mental illness isn’t easy- it seems to be particularly difficult to find help for children and teens.  I was so very proud of my daughter for sharing her story on her blog so that other do not feel alone.

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