September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It is time to drop the stigma against mental health and raise awareness. Almost 75% of people with mental health disorders remain untreated worldwide with close to 1 million ending their lives annually. One in five adults American adults experience a mental health issue.
I am one in five.
These mental health issues, if left untreated, can last a lifetime and can lead to worsening of the condition, feelings of isolation, and thoughts of self-harm, even suicide. One in seven postpartum mothers will develop postpartum depression.
I am one in seven.
Depression and anxiety can be dark and isolating. In that darkness I lost sight of all I had, it clouded my ability to see any light at all. I was convinced that my family would be better off without me, I felt like a burden. I cried myself to sleep at night absolutely convinced that I was causing more harm to my husband and children just by existing than I would if I were to end it all. I was scared of these thoughts and didn’t know where to turn. Thankfully I was under the care of a gifted therapist who guided me through what was my darkest times.
I showed little to no outward signs of the battle that was being waged inside my brain. It took every ounce of energy to keep moving forward every day and not succumb to the thoughts of self-harm that were so prevalent. Those closest to me had no idea. I didn’t want anyone to know.
Suicide and self-harm have a huge stigma. There is little understanding about it and the complexities of how the feeling of utter worthlessness can penetrate so deeply. These are not feelings you can shake off or simply “keep a stiff upper lip” about.
Postpartum depression, if left untreated, can last years. It can lead to thoughts of self-harm and even suicide long after the initial postpartum period. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have found an incredibly gifted professional to help me to become the healthiest and happiest I have ever felt. This is a privilege denied to many. Between financial and social barriers getting help can be impossible. It should not be this way.
It is time to start a dialog, to break down the stigma, to change the perception of depression.
I am here. I am listening. I know how hard this is and how overwhelming it feels. I know it probably seems like you do not matter. You matter to me. You are loved. Let’s talk.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm or know someone who may be, know that you are not alone. You are worthy of love and help. For more information and/or assistance go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/