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Let’s De-Stigmatize the Conversation Around Mental Health in 2019

You're not alone.

In 2019, let's de-stigmatize the conversation around mental health and medication.

It’s the second day of 2019, and everyone is hard at work either making New Years resolutions or setting new goals for themselves to achieve in 2019. With that in mind, many people on Twitter have been talking more about their mental health as they begin the new year.

With hashtags like #TalkingAboutIt, people have been sharing their own stories of medication and living with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other illnesses oftentimes facing stigmas.

The creator of the #TalkingAboutIt tag, Sammy Nickalls, knew that Twitter would be a good way to spread the message that you are not alone:

“I realized that social media has so much potential to connect us, but if all we do is highlight our highest of highs while being quiet about our lows, we’re bound to make the world a lonelier place. I decided to do what I could to bridge the gap by being open about my own mental health struggles in the hopes that it would make others feel a little less alone. I can only hope that people will continue to use the hashtag and visit it when they need a reminder that everyone has bad mental health days—and that there are resources out there. There’s always hope.”

A quick scroll through the tag reveals people sharing their bad mental health days and their resolutions for how to proceed, survive, and thrive in 2019. I opened the tag to catch up on what people were saying, and wound up tearing up. Seeing people who take the same medication I am prescribed made me feel less alone, and less like I was doing something “bad” by not only subscribing to natural ways of dealing with depression. Hiking is nice, but nothing beats the medication I take to stop having panic attacks daily.

I have been on medication since 2014, for my own struggles with mental health. At first, I was hesitant to take it, but as I worked with several psychiatrists and found the right dosages, it was like someone flicked on the light in my mind. Suddenly, I wasn’t having to run out of movies because my panic would get so bad that the thought of sitting quietly in the dark was making it worse, or having an overwhelming spurt of negative thoughts. I could work and exist beyond what I previously thought possible.

This is not to say that I still do not have bad days. Some days, I find myself curled under a quilt, or with hands that shake so badly from nerves that I can barely type. Writing this article is an exercise in anxiety, as I am exposing my deepest vulnerabilities to the wilds of the Internet and praying for mercy. But I want to share, because it is something that needs to be talked about.

We deserve a hashtag to share our struggles and to feel less alone. By talking about it and de-stigmatizing the conversation around it, we can better grow and heal and will feel more able to reach out and ask for help when we need it most. There is nothing to be gained from secrecy, or by hiding part of ourselves, and everything to be gained by sharing and asking for help. That is the only way to move forward successfully.

Writer Nicole Cliffe also started a Twitter trend by asking those who felt comfortable to share their medication, and even dosages, to work around the stigma. While seeing people share their meds, including people I follow and admire, is inspiring, it’s also amazing to see people say in response “seeing this makes me feel less alone.” That is the biggest takeaway from all of this. We are not alone. We have never been alone.

This is a deeply personal piece, and I recognize that not everyone can share their medications or their struggles, or feels comfortable enough to. But if a few of us do, then maybe we can help others feel less like they’ve got to fight this battle on their own. As Nickalls says, there are resources and there is hope. Start 2019 knowing that you’re not alone, and that things can get better.

(image: Pexels)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.