We live in a world where a disability is not taken seriously if you cannot see it. I parented a child with Selective Mutism (social anxiety so severe she could not speak in certain situations) and depression. I also understand this from personal experience.
Around the time that Becca was diagnosed with Selective Mutism, I found out that I had both anxiety and depression. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, the overwhelming sadness I felt after my mother died, and felt throughout my adult life, it came as no surprise.
The anxiety reared its ugly head when I was very small. I can recall feeling very scared in situations too numerous to mention. It, like the sadness, enveloped me. I felt as if I was in a deep pit, my hands clinging to the edge trying not to let go. I looked up, my knuckles white with tension, and was sure that something touched my left hand, making me unwittingly loosen my grip. Staring in disbelief, I struggled to retain the hold I had on the ledge with my right hand.
Suddenly a peaceful feeling came over me, and with my eyes focused on the ledge, I let go, one finger at a time. The black dog of depression had made me surrender.
So began my downward spiral. It did not help that society, and many people around me, felt it was something to be ashamed of. Stigma is a bitch.
Bring On the Medication
Reluctantly, I began to accept that medication for a debilitating mental illness is no more shaming that needing it for diabetes or cholesterol. At least it shouldn’t be.
Sadly, the stigma of mental illness is still running rampant in the 21st century. If only we could bring about change as quickly as technology is advanced. Until then we need to hold up our heads with pride and not be afraid to say, I speak for those who stand with me in silence. I have a mental illness.