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Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health


By Melissa SteussyPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health
Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash

When thinking about taking an anti-depressant for the last year or so (I’ve been on and off for most of my life) most of the people around me would ask me if I had tried anything else. We all know that exercise and diet play a major role in our mental health and for years I was that person that said exercise saved me. It helped my moods and “cured” my anxiety and depression.

Switching to a plant-based diet and getting off of coffee 4 years ago helped so much and I was able to get off meds and feel some deep feelings of grief. I did some deep healing work and even published a memoir.

I get it I really do.

Something changed in me this last year, where I got tired. I got tired of fighting the voices in my head. I got tired of having to self-medicate with supplements that promised me a brighter-shinier demeanor. I got tired of rushing off to the gym (during a pandemic) and tired of making myself go for walks. I stopped talking to other humans for the most part and fell into isolation.

It can be challenging to drag ourselves up and out of depression and the truth is some of us don’t make it out alive.

When my lows got too low for my own personal comfort, I made a doctor’s appointment. I made it a couple of months out so that I knew I had it, and if I still felt this way then I could get a prescription (the games we play with ourselves.)

I had my appointment in early January and got all of my labs done. I was low in Vitamin D, which we know can reak havoc on our moods and even cause depression, so I am working on that, but also took a prescription to fill. Just having it in my drawer made me feel like if I was desperate there was a way out. I know from experience in the past that meds can help me take the edge off and feel more sane.

The meds sat in the drawer and I played little games with myself about when I would potentially start. Friends wondered if I had tried perhaps a psilocybin journey instead of having to take meds and others asked if I had really done all I could before taking the prescription. They didn’t mean to (maybe) but it made me feel a certain sense of shame about feeling so low that I felt like I needed the script.

No one lives in my body, but me, but support is immensely helpful.

Suicide is real and when people are too scared or ashamed to get the help they need their lives can end painfully and others are left in the wake to pick up the pieces wondering how it got this bad. Why didn’t they just reach out? They seemed okay to me.

The stigma is real.

Mental health is a personal journey and although people are well-meaning we have to do what we think is right. No one else lives in our brain.

There was a recent hashtag phenomenon #postyourpill

"#PostYourPill: The trend aiming to destigmatize mental health medication. ... The hashtag #PostYourPill went viral on social media as people posted photos of the mental health medication they take to destigmatize the use of antidepressants and other prescription drugs." Dec 2, 2021

I saw this trend where celebrities were open and upfront about their mental health struggles and even posted their medication. It did make me feel less shame about popping my own pill bottle.

We don’t have to do this alone, they say, but truly we are alone. We are the ones who have to make these important health decisions for ourselves.

We also need to know that we have to keep looking until we find the support we need. The truth is I reached out to a therapist weeks ago at my lowest and still haven’t gotten to make an appointment after going through insurance hoops and logistics. I still don’t even know if I will be able to afford therapy even though I know I need it.

I just want to add that we are still in a Global Pandemic and whatever it takes right now to stay safe and sane is what I am willing to do. We need to keep talking about mental health. Too many of us are suffering alone.


About the Creator

Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:

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