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Coming to Terms With Mental Health Issues by Liz Brown

As the wife of a former SEAL, I am brokenhearted that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. As someone who has suffered from debilitating depression for over 20 years, I'm exhausted by the stigma surrounding all mental health disorders. I am exhausted, and furious, and sad.

I admire every person who has the courage to admit they suffer from depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but hate that they must have courage. Courage means there is fear, and admission means there is guilt. There should be no fear, no guilt. 

I'm sick of those "inspirational" posters that proclaim we only need to CHOOSE to wake up on the right side of the bed because we CHOOSE our happiness.

Here's the truth: We who suffer don't choose to wake up miserable every morning. We don't choose to wonder if we'll make it through another day, or if we'll finally give up the way we do in our daydreams. We don't want to get caught in the whirlpool of negativity that constantly threatens to drown us. We wish we could take a bad day as a bad day instead of feeling like we can't do anything right, and that we're completely worthless.

Stigma holds our tongues. The stigma of mental disorders makes us fear friends, family, and coworkers will look at us like we're different or weird. That they'll suddenly create distance as though our despair is contagious, or worse — they will look at us with pity.

I hear people say some "enjoy being miserable." Does that make more sense than the idea that some people just aren't born with the right coping mechanisms? Or that some combat veterans experienced trauma they can't escape? Thank your God if you've never seen, heard, or felt the kind of pain that makes you want to rip the heart from your chest, or claw the memories out of your mind.

Feel gratitude for that. Don't you dare take it for granted because it's a blessing, not a birthright.

There is no shame in needing help. What's shameful is making someone feel weak for needing help. Making us feel like our sadness is boring or a burden. Making us feel like we should shake it off. Making us feel like we should just DO something about it.

I hope people never forget that the manager of a Veteran Affairs Medical Center’s Seamless Transition Integrated Care Clinic mocked suicidal veterans. I hope we hold on to our outrage until something changes.  

I have.

Sometimes, there is only a short window of time to reach a person in need; God help anyone who slams it shut with malicious laughter. God keep you from the kind of pain that makes a human want to snuff out his or her own life. Because if you ever reach that point of no return, and remember what you've done, the understanding of your cruelty will bring you to your knees.

Stop the stigma. I am begging you to make it stop. You have the power to help those who feel powerless. Let them know they're not crazy, they're not broken, they're not messed up. You don't have to understand and you don't have to fix anything. Let them know they're loved and supported. Help them want to live.