About a week ago, I had a severe depression spell. My depression comes on in waves, and sometimes it feels like oceanic storms. The waves just never ending, coming and coming and coming. With never ending days, and nights that bring on my loneliness even more. I am alone a lot, and honestly I thought it would help. I could think things through. But no, the silence allows the waves to bring on scary times.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness and approximately 1 in 25 U.S. adults live with a serious mental illness that “interferes with or limits one or more major life activities” (Serious Mental Illness Among Adults, 2015). It is estimated that approximately two million individuals experiencing a severe mental illness are annually booked into jails. The mass incarceration of mentally ill individuals in our country is deeply problematic; mentally ill inmates struggle to receive decent care and treatment both inside and outside of prison walls. A lack of federal funding for mental health institutions and the prison expansion that occurred throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s contributed to the criminalization of mental illness.
The GP greeted me with an understated smile, and the usual question, "What can I do for you," which initially I answered with a long pause. I'm nearly 37 years old, and I have had depression for as long as I can remember. This is the first time I have sought help in many years. It was always dismissed as "teenage angst" before, and so I stopped looking for support. I've been going it alone, with only my long suffering partner and a few trusted friends to lean on for so long, and it has gotten so tiring.
Sometimes, us as humans forget that others are humans too. We will see someone with a broken leg, we will say that we are so sorry and hope they are better soon. But when we hear someone has a mental illness, we will say that they are just attention seeking and that they should get over it. Outcasted. For what? That their minds work in a different way?