Last week, I heard someone say they couldn’t understand why they’re anxious when they have a pretty good life. I hear a lot of people say that, or question their problem, because they seem to have a pretty good life. People always inquire why this or that celebrity committed suicide because they had a great life. Let me break this to you now… having a good or great life, or even a mediocre life, will never keep the anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, etc. away. That’s just not how it works.
I heard this when Robin Williams committed suicide, and I argued when Chester Bennington died that it doesn’t matter what kind of life you have. Granted, if you have a pretty awful life it’s bound to get in the way of your mental health. There’s no doubt about it. However, having a good life won’t guarantee you won’t suffer from any kind of mental health issue. I’m certain everyone reading this suffers from something, or has temporarily suffered anxiety or depression at the least sometime in their life. It’s something even the best of us struggle with, but it’s something a lot of people still won’t admit to struggling with.
When it comes to mental health issues, your environment does have some say on how you feel, how you manage it, and what not. I’m sure everyone has heard of the nature versus nurture argument. Again, if negative things are happening to you often enough, it’s bound to have an effect on you. However, mental health issues, especially depression and schizophrenia, often have stronger ties to biological imbalances to your brain. I don’t pretend to be a psychologist. I’ve certainly never thoroughly studied the matter, but I know it’s a fact from what I have read about and what psychologists have told me. If you have chemical imbalances in your brain, it’s going to come out one way or another if not managed; even managing it doesn’t always fix the problem…medicine isn’t magic.
So, if it’s biological, then why do people think having a good life will stop it?
In my own opinion and from what I’ve observed, I think a lot of people justify this type of thought by separating themselves from those who have mental health issues. It’s easier to justify why someone has depression because they simply have a bad life. If you have a good life, you’re safe from all of those negative experiences that come with depression. I get why people turn to this type of thinking. Mental health issues are scary. However, they’re scarier when the world around you stigmatizes your problems to force you to stay quiet.
A friend of mine argued how he couldn’t understand how Bennington willingly took his life when he had a wife and kids. He had money. He was the lead singer of a band. It sounds like a pretty good life on the face of it. However, none of us were living inside of his head.
If you’ve ever suffered from depression, it’s scary right? It’s a weight that sits on you and follows you around. It drains of you your energy, physically hurts you, and makes you give up things you once enjoyed. It’s a battle against yourself… you don’t want to die, but you do. I’ve tried multiple times to explain depression to those around me. When I add my anxiety into the mix, suddenly my war turns into I don’t want to die, but I’m afraid of living.
Can you imagine living through WWIII inside your head every day?
Apply this to Bennington or Williams. Sure, they have money, fame, family, etc. Williams are a great comedian. However, I’m sure none of their fans stopped to think how they truly felt inside. I’m sure it was hard for their own families to think about how they felt inside. Fame and fortune isn’t the answer. It didn’t stop the depression for them, and it’s not going to stop any other mental health issue just because you have “a good life.”
I don’t know of one person who doesn’t suffer from some aspect of mental health. I know a daughter of a schizophrenic. I have several friends who suffer depression. I have several friends, and some professors, who suffer from anxiety. I know people who suffer with OCD. My brother suffers from ADHD. Think of one person that you know… can you think of someone who doesn’t suffer from something? A lot of people grin and bear it silently. There are signs here and there that something is amiss, but some people simply become experts at hiding their problems. There are many times where I am crying inside, but situations force me to simply smile and continue on like there’s nothing wrong. It’s sad when society makes it normal for people to suffer…where people don’t feel comfortable opening up.
I become absolutely frustrated when people around me don’t understand mental health and its importance. I heard a lot in recent months when my depression got serious that people couldn’t understand why I was upset because I was going to the Dominican Republic in January. The trip kept me from taking my own life numerous times I’ll willingly admit. However, it’s not going to tell my brain to suck it up and be happy just because I have this incredible experience coming up. Brains aren’t helpful in that way.
Without trying to sound cruel, celebrities shouldn’t have to commit suicide before we, as a society, looks at the issues. My heart goes out for the families of those celebrities that have passed away, but it’s frustrating that the issue is only discussed for a month or two before things go back to “normal.” Depression should be looked at for longer than that. Prayers are great, if that’s your thing. However, discussing the issue and addressing it is what needs to be done. Fame and fortune are fickle things. It doesn’t stop the bad things, and having a good life isn’t going to stop them either.
Now that I’m done venting (for now), let me pass on some wisdom that I’ve gained from myself and my therapist….mental health is important. Self-care is detrimental to survival. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook how it upsets her that people judge her for her self-care. As someone who is only recently figuring it out, self-care is what helps you cope with the mental health issues. You need a bag of tools to help you get through each day. Figure out what works for you. Don’t let others judge you. I’ve lost track of how many times I’m told I’m selfish when I need to take a day off to rest or spend “me time” doing something I need to do. Their opinions aren’t important. Find what kind of self-care helps you. Draw, write, read, walk, whatever. Utilize breathing techniques. Gather a group of people you trust for support and empathy.
Don’t be ashamed of mental health issues, no matter what they are. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your experiences. In the last year, I’ve become an open book when it comes to mental health. You absolutely never know when you are helping others just by sharing your own story.