When I was only 10 years old, my father was diagnosed with severe depression, and only seven months later he took his own life. It might be my own experiences that push my want to motivate others to end the stigma around addiction and mental illness. However, my dad wasn't the only one suffering. I am not the only child living with a tragic story like this. There are still more dads, moms, children, bosses, you name it; there are still more and more individuals struggling with mental illness each day.
One of the hardest parts of my dad's illness was feeling, even at the young age of 10, like I couldn't share what was going on with others. I didn't know much about depression, suicide, any of it, but there was a part of me inside who was almost afraid to tell others what was going on with my perfect family of 4. Why is it that at only 10 I was already a part of the problem? I was already holding onto the stigma around mental illness, even as a child.
To me, it breaks my heart when I look back on my childhood. I was struggling as a child with my father's illness and how to come to terms with it all, but I couldn't talk about it. I felt like I had to hold it all in which was completely horrible. I had so many questions, feelings, emotions, concerns, etc., but I kept it all in. Very quickly I picked up on the fact that everyone was silent. They were silent about his condition, his treatment, his progress- we were always silent.
Looking back, the endless silence just makes me want to scream. I want to scream for my childhood that I was robbed of. I want to scream for my dad. I want to scream for each and everyone else that has been forced into silence because of the stigma associated with mental illness. I for one am tired of being silent. I am ready to scream, and you should be too. You should want to scream too. We all should be screaming.
I have a brain, you have a brain, we all have a brain. That's the biggest reason we ALL should be putting mental health in the spotlight. We are all susceptible to rough times and we are not always capable of making it through those times alone. And there is nothing wrong with that. You might be afraid to admit that, but you are not alone- far from it. If we choose to stop being silent, and we insist on screaming, then we won't be alone. We won't need to feel like we have to do it alone.
Some may never get it. Some will say "just get over it". Some will wish you were silent. However, no one said you have to listen to those people. They truly might not ever get it, but that's also okay. What isn't okay? Pretending that mental illness does not walk and live amongst us every single day.
It's time we start screaming.