Matt linked to Crystal's story about being Home. Her tale about someone discounting her prior behavior now that she has sought help, rang true for me. Matt's Friday blog gave me encouragement.
I decided it's time to stop pussy-footing around.
I've said here before that I was depressed. But there's a difference between saying that and saying I've got an imbalance in my brain chemistry. In my case, there's a ton of anecdotal evidence to suggest this imbalance is an inherited, multi-generational condition.
To blame or cast character aspersions on someone who has what will prove, in another 5 to 10 years, to be a disease with genetic markers, and quantifiable neuro-chemical diagnosticators [did I just make that word up?], is ignorance and insanity. That kind of bias is analogous to blaming someone for having green eyes, or calling them a child of the Debbil for having red hair or being left-handed.
AD stated, in his comments on Matt's blog, that there's no stigma attached to mental health issues today; except in the minds of small people. I disagree, respectfully. There's not as MUCH stigma attach to depression as there was 40 years ago, or even 20 years ago. Barbara Bush is to be commended for helping erase some of that stigma. And George, the younger, too. By talking publicly about her own depression, Barbara made it more acceptable for Jane Average to admit she was depressed. When George, the younger talked about how his Mother's depression effected him, he sent a message that it's OK if your Mom is depressed. You don't have to be ashamed of her and you can help her through it and still be accepted, too.
But, I would assert there are still people out here among us who inwardly cringe every time some Nut Job goes off his meds and shoots up his family/school/local mall. Those would be the Bi-Polars or Manic Depressives. There are millions of functional Bi-Polars who take their meds every day, live their normal lives, go to work, kiss their spouses and kids, and never shoot up anything. But whenever the average person hears the word "Bi-Polar" they connect that disorder with instability and someone who should be locked up until they can prove they are no danger to anyone else. There's plenty of stigma for them to overcome.
I don't think it's necessary to disclose what kind of problem(s) I have had or that anyone else disclose the exact nature of their problems, either. But I felt, and I felt it strongly enough, as I said in my comment on Matt's blog: Until those of us who have been there and done that, now use our first tee shirt as a dust rag, stand up and say, "Hey! Me, too. I've been overwhelmed. There was a time when I needed some help. I got it. I'm a better person today because I did."
Until we are willing to stand up in a public forum and do that, there will still be people out there who whisper about us behind our backs. You know, the way they used to talk about people who had cancer and avoid contact with them because it might be catching.
But if only half of us raise our hands...I think all the whisperers, even those of you who do it discreetly, will be shocked. There are a hell of a lot of us Crazee People out here.