The Stigma of Depression
Blogs, blogs, blogs. Everywhere you look, you find more blogs -- on every topic imaginable, including mental health and depression. Some of them are spectacular. Some are less spectacular. Some make me sad and angry because they perpetuate the stigma that all of us living with a mental health issue continue to fight.
I came acrosss one of those that make me sad and angry today. The name of the blog is Soul lost in time. The title of the engry was My little theory on mental illness. It's written by Bhaktin Sara Bock and is a Blogspot blog.
Allow me to quote parts of this blog post:
- I work at a mental health center, and this may sound "crazy" but sometimes I doubt if mental illness exists to the degree we allow and encourage it to, or if a lot of it is people a little out of balance or living an improper lifestyle which produces some symptoms of mental illness...
- Ok, we have extreme cases of the person on the street corner talking to themselves, dressed eccentrically, etc. and this may well be the genuine mental illness that requires some serious medical help...
- However, with some milder cases of depression and anxiety, I find myself very frustrated seeing people who seem perfectly capable of acheiving at least a normal life if not more success, limit themselves to a life of being sedated by medication and spending their time at mental health centers, instead of out in the world doing the things they love and reaching their higher potential...
- Spiritually speaking, we are all born with certain traits, talents, and skills, according to our past karma and actions which are meant to be used in the service of the Lord...
- If we are instead living a selfish life, rather than a life of service to others, or if we are not making full use of our talents and abilities, of course we will feel depressed or anxious...
Why does this blog entry bother me so much?
- Looking at her profile, it does not appear that the author has any credentials for diagnosing illness or determining what's "genuine mental illness" or "mild" anxiety and depression.
- She assumes that people who are in treatment for their mental health cannot live "normal" lives.
- She assumes that people who are in treatment for their mental health do not have healthy lifestyles, do not have healthy attitudes, do not engate in positive thinking.
- Her overall tone is judgmental, dismissive, and "preachy."
- She assumes that people with mental health issues do not have a good relationship with God, are not meeting their potential, and do not live fulfilling lives.
Ms. Bock, should you read this, allow me to address you directly. As you quote Krishna, allow me to quote my scripture to you, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." I am being treated for major depressive disorder, AND I am living the best life I could imagine for myself. I have a wonderful family (husband, two sons, two daughters in-law, nine grandchildren), great friends, and a career as an author and patient educator and advocate. At the end of every single day, I know my day has been successful and fulfilling because I've helped someone else.
If any of you want to read the full blog entry (and perhaps post a comment), there's a link below.
Bhatkin Sara Bock. "My little theory on mental illness." October 8, 2008.