The Elephant in the Room
There are so many types of mental illnesses! Yet, they are rarely spoken (hence The Elephant in the Room) about because it is construed as showing weakness when you can’t handle your own crap.
This is a list of the *main* groups (or classifications) though there are probably a hundred more that can be added.
Some of the main groups of mental disorders are:
- mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
- anxiety disorders
- personality disorders
- psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
- eating disorders
- trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
- substance abuse disorders
Breaking it Down
According to the DSM-V, each category of depression has a certain “criteria” that one has to meet. I am not here to argue with the authors of this book. Frequently, I have had to pull this book out to see things and I do use it as a solid guide. Yet, no 2 people who struggle with mental illness are the same.
That is where my thought process may not line up with the professionals. I guess that is just splitting hairs. If you or someone you love is struggling PLEASE reach out. Reach out to a pastor, counselor, friend, family member, anyone!
I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I remember thinking I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t look like other kids or think like other kids. We didn’t have the money to buy things that others had. Don’t get me wrong, I was loved and I was loved fiercely. So many people do not come from good home lives. I did and I am thankful.
As I got older, things got harder. My grandpa died when I was 14. That was the first death, of someone I loved, so I took it hard. So hard, in fact, that I was physically ill. I remember having to stay at Susie and Frank’s house (my “other” parents) during most of the mourning time. It was just too much for me and I didn’t know how to properly process it all.
I remember one time that my sister and I were in the car with my mom. That was a moment that I was so deep in my sadness I couldn’t see out. I looked at Martha and said something eluding to suicide. That is the one and only time I remember her smacking me across the face.
The look in her eye was fear and now, as an adult, I can see that. I remember her asking me what Granny would think, how mom could go on if I chose that path. Her tears flowed freely. Again, I was fiercely loved. I just couldn’t see it because of this haze that I lived in. Never have I spoken or thought that again. Her face is burned in my mind. We went for ice cream after that interaction. From that point on, we never spoke of it again.
High school sucked. I had no friends. Didn’t date. I was awkward and struggling. Luckily, I had one brooding friend and we were able to brood about life together. We were both odd little ducks. I would go over to her house and she would brush my hair and we would watch Elvis LOL. If it weren’t for her, I would have had no one.
Sadly, life took us in opposite directions and we spent almost 3 decades apart. Guess what? God is sweet like this…He has seen fit to bring her BACK in my life after almost 30 years. We are both believers now with families. Oh, I can close my eyes and remember those days of our darkness and big hair. Her hair is still big, mine is small…darkness is gone for us both!
Diagnosis, Sort of
When I was 19, I started having health problems. I was skinny as a rail because I didn’t eat (wanted to fit in). This was my first year in college (stress), working full-time, and catching the attention of inappropriate male humans.
At that time, I was diagnosed with chronic high blood pressure (ran about 240/120), high cholesterol, Meniere’s Disease, and clinical depression. Good times were had by all! I was shocked, as were my parents. The meds for the “medical” part of it started but the mental part, I was told to buck up and be quiet. There really wasn’t anything they could do for me. I would be fine.
Let’s Add to our Fun
When I was 20, I placed myself in a spot where I should have never been. Now, that does not mean that what happened was something I brought on! It was an active choice of another and I have lived with that for a long time.
Depression, self-doubt, blame, shame, and all the other negative words you can think of piled on top of me. For YEARS I blamed myself. Like I could not function. I felt dirty, unworthy, unlovable all because of an action of another. It was horrible. I truly do not know how Big Daddy fell in love with me. Honestly, it was horrible.
One day, after I had had Victoria, I got up the nerve to call a crisis center. It was totally anonymous and before the land of caller id. I knew that I could safely call, relive everything, and get a straight answer. My family knew nothing, my husband knew nothing, I kept this to myself for YEARS.
I used all my words. Then I used more words. I can recount every detail like I was reading a book. There is also no more emotion attached to it. I had completely detached myself from this memory.
What she told me stopped me in my tracks and began my healing. Did you know that 8/10 people are sexually abused by someone they know? At the time, I didn’t know that! I thought every case was this violent, horrific act like you see on television. Nope. I was so wrong.
I will be forever thankful for the person on the other end of the line. Thankfully, I have been able to heal emotionally, talk openly, and get the help that I needed. If you EVER need to go through YOUR scenario, please call 1.800.656.4673 for 24/7 help!
So many other things in my life. Death, loss of children, threats of losing children, difficult children, loss of jobs, marriage difficulties during the years. My depression has deepened to the point of frightening my husband and family. Thankfully, I have been able to use my words and communicate my needs.
There is NO SHAME in medication! NO SHAME in therapy! There is NO SHAME in admitting you are not okay! There is NO SHAME depression! It is a disease just like cancer and diabetes! You medicate for those things and you can medicate for a chemical imbalance in your brain or a circumstantial period of your life.
End the Stigma
Mamas with postpartum, people with PTSD, people with brain damage, trauma, sexual abuse survivors (we are NOT victims), soldiers, police officers, EMT workers, pastors, people in general!
I see you! You are okay! God is bigger! Help is waiting for you! You are loved! Treasured! Accepted! A child of the King!
Do not be ashamed. Fear is a liar. You are a hero! I hear you and feel you. Medication is OKAY! There are days when I’m good. Like I’m great! Then, there are days when I just want to stay in bed and cry. That is okay as long as you don’t stay there by yourself.
Words of Wisdom
I will NEVER forget my sister saying this in the depths of one of my sad periods. “Brandi, you can let the bird fly around your head all you want…just don’t let it make a nest in there.”
I have learned self-care, that I have great doctors, and when needed, a med that works well with me. Jesus and I are talking again. He is good all the time and all the time He is good. My husband has stopped trying to fix it and now he just listens or hugs me.
You are okay and if you are not okay, that is okay too! Soon, you will be okay! I hope this has helped someone, somewhere. If not, it sure was helpful to me! Onward and upward!