Have you ever wondered what the purpose of your life is? I have. Many times. Ever since I did my first NLP training I have this feeling that I want to help people, I just don’t know how. But lately I’m starting to think that maybe it is to create awareness for mental illness. Whenever I feel insecure about my posts I keep reminding myself: if there’s just one person who gets something out of my writing, then it’s worth it. It’s not about me and my insecurities, it’s about helping people. And in this way, my depression and all my suffering hasn’t been in vain.
Depression is a part of my life like… forever, really. Not just me being depressed, but also growing up with a mother who suffered from it. For years I haven’t talked about it, but in recent years I’ve begun to realize how important it is to open up about it. Not just depression, but mental illness in general (I just often refer to depression because that is what I know best).
Living with someone who is depressed is hard. I can’t make it prettier than it is. It’s hard because the person who is depressed has so much going on that there’s no space for anything or anyone else. That’s not because they don’t want to, but because at that moment they just can’t. But that doesn’t make it any easier for the people that have to live with it, because they have needs too. And that’s why it’s so important for them as well to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Stigma does not just prevent people who suffer from mental illness to seek help, it also prevents a lot of people who live with them from talking to people about it and seeking help for themselves. It’s hard on partners when they have to do the extra work in the household because the other person can’t do it, or to explain to others why you’re not going to that party. And, since I have a soft spot for children, especially thinking of young kids with parents who suffer from mental illness, because they depend on them. Often kids don’t know (exactly) what’s going on but they do live with the consequences of their parents illness and that can have a great impact on a child. They are so vulnerable, don’t know what is going on and often have not yet learned the resources to survive this.
Whether it’s your partner or your parent, if you live with someone who has a mental illness, you need help too. Even if it’s just a good friend who will listen to you.
Today I came across a beautiful article in which psychologist Stephen Hinshaw tells about his book: “Another Kind of Madness: A Journey through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness”. It is a memoir about his life growing up with a father who has psychotic episodes. It’s not in the library (yet, I hope) so I haven’t read it yet, but I definitely will. But just the article itself is a great read for everyone who is interested in mental illness. Especially if you have or know kids that grow up with a parent with a mental illness, please do read this article!
P.S. If you have questions feel free to contact me, I will do my best to answer them.