Empower Yourself and Recognize Stigmas Hold Zero Validity
By Robert Parmer
We live in a country still unfortunately filled with some social, physical health, and mental health stigmas. America doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to these types of shamming behaviors and that is, to put it lightly, disappointing. Taking the steps to understanding and relating to what a person is going through when they are dealing with cognitive health illness is something that everyone should take into consideration. The simple fact is that people from every age group, from all walks of life can be challenged by these illnesses. Take the time to recognize this. Process how everyone’s definition of stability can and do differ.
At around the age of thirteen, I developed extremely overwhelming depression. The transition from elementary school to middle school is almost always a challenging endeavor but it hit me particularly hard. It was around this time that the collapse of my immediate family began to make itself known. My father, who had always been a constant success story, was laid off from his job that he had invested over a decade of hard work and dedication to. We were forced to move. We were forced to sell our cars and downgrade, in more ways than one. We lived paycheck to paycheck. We became dysfunctional. All of this paired with the constant day to day depression that began to set in was a phenomenon that hit me like a thousand pound weight attached to my feet, and I had no way of comprehending what was actually going on.
Depression consumed me at this point in my life and I couldn’t even pinpoint it.
I was always a pretty quiet person up until that point in my life, but I began to feel more and more reserved with every passing day. My teachers would ask me why I didn’t want to participate in the socially driven activities that were a normal occurrence at school. I preferred to work silently, near the back of the classroom whenever possible.
When I was hit with a wave of depression like a tsunami I saw a huge shift in the way my day to day life functioned. Around the time of the crest of this wave I was heavily introduced to playing music for the first time in my life. This seemed to be therapeutic and was something that I found to be a natural ability of mine. But that alone was not enough.
My parents began to split up on the regular. They would leave each other for undefined amounts of time in the most sporadic fashion. Around this timeframe I remember being feeling very stuck and depression spiraled above my head all day, every day. Around this time one of my older siblings began to notice this shift in my attitude and overall mentality. My depression was more and more noticeable because mental illness symptoms influence our physical health on top of everything else that is impacted. This is when counseling became prevalent. My sibling helped me get the help I needed, and counseling albeit awkward to me at first, drastically improved my situation. I slowly felt the depressive gates breaking down.
I recognize that in the grand scheme of things my depression is pretty minor compared to a lot of other mental health illness that people cope with on a daily basis, but I will say one thing: going through that phase of my life was an eye opening experience and helped me recognize the extent of the struggles of any scale of mental health illness.
When American citizens think of who is responsible for violent crimes in society, then often attribute this to people with mental problems. This is a huge misconception, and adds to the backwards stigmas that exist. The vast majority of these people are not dangerous, they are suffering. They are patients mistaken for prisoners. It’s easy for people that are cognitively healthy to look right past these issues and continue to take a judgmental and incriminating approach. This is an all around flawed perspective to take.
Although I have personally overcome the mental health issues of my past for the most part, I am still affected by depression at seemingly random points in my life. It’s important for me to have a therapeutic outlet for this, and that is one of the major motivators for why I’ve continued to pursue musical endeavors. It’s a hugely empowering feeling to have that in my life. I challenge anyone reading this to find their outlet. Whether it’s spending time with a pet you love, or cleaning your house, or reading a book you enjoy, find your own empowerment. It can be anything, everyone has something. It’s crucially important to make yourself happy, and the best way to do this is in a natural way that makes you feel good.
That all being said I have a huge soft spot in my heart for people dealing with mental health illnesses and have an immense amount of appreciation for those affected by this. The idea of ending mental health stigmas is something that is seeing a dramatic rise. Let’s continue this trend and advocate the change that needs to happen. We’re all people trying to be functional and happy and get through pitfalls of this world. We don’t have to feel burned by society’s stigmas, we can reverse the effect through understanding and empowerment.
Robert Parmer is a freelance web writer and student of Boise State University. Outside of writing and reading adamantly, he enjoys creating and recording music, caring for his pet cat, and commuting by bicycle whenever possible.
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