Thursday, January 29, 2009

Journey on a Winding Road: Destroying the Stereotype

I think I shared when I first started this journey that even admitting I had a problem was a huge deal for me. I've been asking myself why? Why is it so hard to admit that you are sick? And yes! Depression is an illness. The Center for Disease Control has a department dedicated to mental illnesses and within that department significant resources dedicated to the study and treatment of depression.

If the CDC recognizes it, then it really is a illness.

I found one report in particular that really meant a lot to me. It's mostly statistics but if you can wade through it you will see some very startling facts.

Less than 50% of people who have SEVERE depression actually consult a health professional.
It's actually only 39%. People who have lesser degrees seek assistance even less. I am a perfect example. The whole point of The Journey is to see if I can find any other way to deal with my own depression.

Why don't people seek help more often? Why haven't you? I know that there are several sleeper readers who struggle with this issue because I have received e-mails from them. They won't leave their comment here on the post because it's out in the open then. It's a form of admitting that there is a problem. Why is it such a big deal to admit that there is a legitimate illness? Why has it taken ME so long to admit it?

Because of the stigma attached. Here's the stigma I had attached. If I tell my husband that I am struggling with depression, he is going to question my ability to be a good mother. He will fear that I will go Susan Smith on him and harm the children. If I tell my family that I have a problem with depression, they will insist that I start seeing a professional counselor or at the very least my pastor to discuss all my issues and past. If I tell my friends that I am battling for my mental life, they will shower me with pity or they will judge me for being weak.

People don't seek help because in many cases they simply can't afford it. Even if they can get to a doctor to be evaluated, which is questionable through current insurance anyway, they won't be able to afford to fill any medications they need for treatment anyway.

Some people are like me. They don't believe that they are really sick. I can't tell you how many times I said, "It's hormones." Or the millions of times I blamed it on my children's failure to listen. Or on the weather. I kid you not! I would blame a week of rainy days for my foul mood. I'm sure all of those things had a contributing effect but they weren't the real cause.

So for all of your preaching Sarah, does this mean that you are going to get help? Honestly? Probably not. I am part of that group that just won't go. I'm still hung up in my stigmas. I am still relying on my own journaling and exercise and diet to help me control my mood. Will it work? Who knows. Will I eventually seek help? Maybe.

It's all a Journey on a Winding Road.


TheXMom said...

Getting help is hard to do, I have gotten professional help before but can never keep up with it. In my opinion getting help is pointless if your not going to follow thru with it and commit to it.

Susan said...

I deal with depression and anxiety. I hate "shrinks" so I deal with it through meds. Just because you seek "help" doesn't mean you need to tell anyone about it (except your Dr that is). And the stigma isn't nearly what it used t be.

Jenera said...

I have dealt with depression since I was a teenager and I think I avoided getting help because I didn't want to admit I'd become my mother. But eventually it got so bad that I had to, there was no other choice.

After 12 years of fighting it, I now know my triggers and how to handle them without medication. I feel like I've 'beat' the damn thing but I still struggle. I just posted about it the other day.

When I met my husband I was very open about my mental health and things that may happen. I am so lucky to have such a supportive man that when I say I'm feeling 'off' he takes it seriously. He has never questioned my ability as a mother because he feels that since I'm aware of it all, I know when to ask for help and he knows the warning signs.

I think if you are open about the struggle, it makes it easier on yourself and everyone else.

jennifer said...

This made me think about the person that convinced me long ago that I didn't need medication... that it was mind over matter. And I haven't taken a pill for depression since (I'm not saying I might not have benefited from it, just that I haven't taken them). However, he now takes antidepressants himself.

I sometimes think I should be back on them, but I still think I can muddle my way through until I'm back on top again.

Staci said...

Sarah, I'm right there with you. I've always thought that it is something I can handle on my own. I don't like other people (especially doctors) telling me what to do. What even worse in my case, I studied mental health and ways to help people in school. So I really should be willing to talk to someone myself.

Wishing you the best!