There is nothing wrong with seeking the help of a professional and anyone who tells you otherwise is not acting in your best interest. You are not crazy and should “just snap out of it”, none of this is your fault and it isn’t all ‘just in your head’. A mental disorder cannot be removed from your daily life if you ‘just change the way you think’ or ‘be grateful for what you have’.
Mental illness is like any other illness and has caused many great and strong willed people to take their own lives. It is not something that should be joked about and is not something to be taken lightly. Being depressed is not just feeling extreme sadness, it is a total darkness that eclipses someone’s mind. It takes them to another place, one where they do not feel welcome and cannot find an ounce of happiness. It is not something the person chooses to do to themselves, nor is it a burden that anyone should have to go through and experience. People need to open their eyes to the true meaning of depression and anxiety disorders and understand that it is something that cannot be controlled. I know this as I have a close friend who dealt with these issues, I know these frustrations all too well as I have lived it and experienced the stereotypes first hand. We experienced the so-called friends who joked about it, told him to ‘cheer up’ because everything is ok, or ‘let’s go out and have some fun and you will forget about it’.
Nothing is ever that simple when it comes to mental illness and it is a major flaw that some people in society see it that way. If you had a broken leg, could you easily ‘go for a run’ to make it heal? No you couldn’t, being physically injured is the same as being mentally injured times 50. Your mind is the control center of your entire body and dictates your actions, words, and thoughts. This is why these disorders take so many lives and if a man has an anxiety disorder, he should not blame himself and feel guilty, he should seek the help he needs without having to feel like he is being judged for weakness or lack of personal grit. This is why I wrote this blog today, to tell a very personal story that .
Take me back to college
I will never forget the day we first met. It was a Monday, I was walking out of my first lecture of the day when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned as I heard a voice saying, “Hey, I think we are in the same class, would you like to study for the exam later”, so due to it being myself and not being ready as usual for the exam, I gladly accepted the offer to study with someone who looked like they actually listened in lecture. This was how I met Andrew for the first time.
Later on that day, we met over some coffee and studied for a few hours for the exam, exchanged numbers and parted ways. It seemed like we got along very well, so over the next couple weeks and months, we eventually became close friends and studied together on many occasions.
After a few months, Andrew had missed some get-togethers and study sessions with what seemed to be random and somewhat far-fetched excuses. So, after a while, I started to question them thinking that he was just being lazy or trying to skip out on something. However, I could not have been more wrong. On one winter’s evening, I believed that Andrew had fallen asleep a night before our biggest exam. I headed over to his place to wake him up and to my surprise the door was wide open. As I walked in, I could not believe what I was witnessing. It was Andrew, sitting down with a knife in his hand, sobbing repeatedly saying “just do it”. I ran over as quickly as I could and snatched the knife right out of his hand. I screamed at him, I could not believe what he was about to do and berated him for not reaching out to anyone about his problems. He said he didn’t want to seem weak and insecure, that his anxiety in college was becoming too much and too overwhelming and he just wanted it to stop.
I believe the anxiety had led to some depression and Andrew was blaming himself for his issues and feeling guilty. He did not want to burden us and believed he was just weak and not tough enough. This is a terrible way to see anxiety and depression disorders as they should never be kept a secret out of fear.
You should always tell the people closest to you or even reach out to a professional for help. It is not your fault and there is always something that can be done about it. These issues are many times not self-induced and are just a medical disorder that can happen to anyone.
If you are reading this, please do not keep it to yourself and seek help for yourself immediately. These disorders can consume you and eventually lead someone to take their own life. Andrew was lucky, we got him the attention he needed and he slowly got back to full health. Please seek help before it is too late, and do not find yourself in a position Andrew once was.