My chest felt sweepingly heavy as I wrote this — I wasn’t sure if sharing something incredibly personal would bring comfort or merely stir the ‘madness’ in me. Opening up about my mental health is scary and hairy, especially since I’ve been struggling with it for a long time — the funny thing was, I didn’t know that I was struggling. Well, sometimes the answer is clear, but often the distinction isn’t so obvious, but that is not your fault.
My Lowest Point
I’ve come so far since my desperate suicide attempt — only a few people know it, not even my family. It was December 2019 when I reached my breaking point and I realized that I needed to open up about it, or else it would eat me alive. It was my lowest I had ever been, I had pushed people away and wanted to be non-existent. I still experience anxiety attacks and depressive episodes from time to time and in fact, my body has also been failing me lately. I’ve been living in silence about my mental health, but these trying times have taught something really important and profound: to confront my greatest enemy, myself.
Bad days are my normal. Humor has been my escape. My career has become the source of my identity. People think I am okay, but I am mentally unwell, so debilitating that it becomes physically disabling. There are days worse than others, but I’ve learned to manage it or at least calm myself. People, you have to know that dealing with anxiety and depression is an everyday struggle. Not all us are lucky to still remain in control, but for some this is a real, deadly threat.
Still A Taboo Subject
Sadly, mental health is still a very taboo subject. A lot of people are still ignorant and don’t treat it seriously because it’s not really visible. When I was growing up, mental health issues were not widely understood or discussed, thus confronting it has become a terrifying scenario for me. There was fear. There was confusion. I was in denial.
I believe that opening up about mental health struggles is one of the most effective ways of fighting stigma around it, but it is important to take the disclosure process seriously to protect yourself from further harm. I tried reaching out to my few friends, hoping that I could get comfort from them, however some people may not even believe mental illnesses exist. A frightening reality, kid.
I’m not sharing my story for pity and sympathy because I know I am a strong man. I’m blessed to share my story in the hopes that it will somehow help others to open up and speak up about their mental health struggles. I just strongly believe that when more people share their experiences, the more other people will understand that these illnesses are real, and the more acceptance will develop.
I want the stigma around mental health struggles to end, and I will start it right now. Let’s stop thinking that depression, anxiety, and other mental health illnesses need to be hidden or kept in private with your counselor. We can make a difference in millions of lives, we just have to work together in empathy, peace, and understanding.
Just an update, I am now focused on moving forward and living a life where I no longer allow my mental illness to deter me. I am stronger than the demons inside my head, and I refuse it to let it beat me.
For those who are struggling just like me, do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Give yourself the liberation from fear, guilt, and panic. You are not alone. Keep fighting!
Mental illness does not define who we are.
Provide safe spaces to talk, to listen, and to offer caring responses.
We are in this together. We can end the stigma.