Why We Need To Keep The Conversation Around Mental Health Going
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Health and Wellness

We Need To Talk About Mental Illness, It Can Literally Save A Life

This conversation is here to stay. It has to be.

We Need To Talk About Mental Illness, It Can Literally Save A Life

The entire Madison community is in mourning. This past week, we lost a fellow Dodger as he took his own life. You can donate to CJ's family here. The tragedy sparked many conversations regarding mental health on social media. It has led to people opening up about their own experiences, advocating to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, or simply saying that they are there if anyone needs to talk, which are all positive things. These conversations are important to have in order to prevent tragedies, like this one, from occurring in the future.

Throughout high school, I've struggled with anxiety, but for some reason, it escalated at the beginning of my senior year. Every day was a new challenge — from having to focus on my breathing in class to hiding my shaking at work. It was hard to wake up every morning. I'd start the day thinking, "What will my anxiety ruin today?" Some days were easier than others, but overall, I needed to change my quality of life. I've had to leave work early because of a "migraine" (panic attack), or I've had my friends drop me off home early because I was "tired" (anxious). One night, I made my parents take me to the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack when in reality, it was a panic attack.

Around the time of the hospital fiasco, I remember in school talking to a classmate after she visited the nurse's office during class. She told me she gets pains in her chest and heart palpitations, and that they worried her. But, the doctors swore it was anxiety-induced. I would never want anyone to feel the way I felt with my anxiety, but it was comforting knowing that I was not alone in my battle.

Other people go through the same exact thing — I'm not as crazy as I thought.

In the winter, my anxiety still consumed my thoughts. My therapist and parents encouraged me to start taking medication, but I was stubborn. I thought only crazy people took meds for mental illness. My opinion changed after a conversation with one of my coworkers. She told me about her positive experience with taking medication for mental illness and how her mental state improved drastically because of it. That day, I decided to give medication a shot.

Thank god for my coworker's advice, because Prozac changed my life! My symptoms are nowhere near as bad as they were before — life is fun again.

I don't mean to ramble, and I am not looking for pity. I've been pretty good (at least I think I've been) at hiding my challenges, however recent events have made me realize that I could help others if I was more open. Because people shared their struggles and triumphs with me, it made me feel less alone. Mental illness is an illness people don't choose to have and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Just as people share tips on how they deal with their bad knee, people should share tips on how they cope with their mental illnesses if they're comfortable. As a community, it's our job to make everyone feel comfortable.
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