Let's keep talking about behavioral health for everyone. But let's stop talking about recovery for serious mental illness and start celebrating people whose brain disorders cause them to live with health challenges comparable to those experienced by cancer patients. The word we need, in the face of so much loss, is hope. Mental illness is not a choice. But hope is. Even in the face of tragedy, today I choose hope.
My mental illnesses are diseases, just like my cancer, and need to be treated in a similar way. If I, myself, can't share my story then it indicates that I also have stigma so I discuss my mental health issues openly just like I do anything else. I have found that when I share my story, I have an impact.
This month marked the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. In a report on State Mental Health Legislation in 2014, NAMI noted that on the first anniversary of the tragedy last year, Americans could see progress flowing from both the White House Conference on Mental Health and state legislation. This year, progress has slowed.
If you are suffering from depression, or know someone who is, my goal of writing these articles on depression is to spread a message of hope. Psychiatry is a field of medicine that specifically focuses on diseases of the mind including depression. Even a single consultation can help to clarify the diagnosis, treatment options and can begin the healing process.
Using names or acronyms of mental illnesses to hyperbolize innocuous idiosyncrasies and experiences has become pervasive in our cultural dialogue. It is important we end this trend, because making these flippant references trivializes how devastating the illnesses can be and perpetuates myths and misunderstandings.