Motivational speakers are supposed to be extremely positive, upbeat and “unstoppable.” They are supposed to be the very picture of happiness and success. They are supposed to tell you how you can do anything – if you just put your mind to it.
Annh. Thank you for playing.
After just watching the insightful and revealing film, Of Two Minds, directed by Lisa Klein and Doug Blush, I was reminded of what the experience is like for someone who is clinically depressed or who suffers from bipolar or anxiety disorders. I remembered in all too vivid detail the fear, isolation, extreme hopelessness and fatigue that would appear out of nowhere and put a stranglehold on my life.
I suffered for years with clinical depression and severe anxiety and panic attacks and was terrified of telling anyone. I believed that revealing my dark secret would further alienate people who wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. I hung on to life by a meager thread at times, wanting desperately to let go, believing that 1) I didn’t have the strength to hold on and 2) If life was just about “holding on,” then I truly didn’t want to live. I couldn’t live like that. It was too painful, exhausting and – what was the point?
If anyone had suggested to me that I needed to just “snap out of it” or “think positive thoughts,” the very idiocy of that suggestion would have sent me into a tailspin. It would have been further confirmation of how sick I was. “Thinking positive thoughts” was what NORMAL people did when they got depressed, but since I couldn’t do that – well, then, there you go. More evidence of just how sick I was.
I have two reasons for writing this post.
Here’s my first reason: If you are a person who suffers from any sort of mental illness 1) Don’t give up, and 2) Get help. The challenge is that the disease is so isolating that when you are embroiled in it, it feels like no one else could possibly understand and if you tell someone, they will look at you like you are covered in green slime. Find a professional to help you. Do not give up. You can always say to yourself, “Well, that Linda Larsen person made it through this – so maybe I can too.” And do NOT say, “Yes, but she was strong, I’m not.” Believe me, I was as low as they get.
Here’s my second reason: If you have someone in your life who is going through this, please, do not tell them to “cheer up” or ask them why they can’t just be happy. Do NOT look at them or treat them like there is something wrong with them. Be calm, be reassuring and encourage them to find help. No green slime looks.
This is a very serious disease, and as more and more people come out and talk about their experience with it, people who are suffering will begin to see that they are not alone, they will not be ostracized if they reveal what they are going through and there IS help available.