17 June 2012

My pride won't let me admit I need help

The other day, I was in a discussion on Facebook about PostPartum Depression and mental illness in general, and the fact that telling people "Just get over it" isn't usually particularly helpful. Eventually, the conversation came around to someone saying that a lot of people who say those types of things might even have problems themselves but their pride won't let them admit it.

I'm not into diagnosing whether or not people have an illness, mental or otherwise. That's not what this post is about. This post, I'd like to focus on something that really hit home: the idea that "My pride won't let me admit I have a mental illness".

There are two things that really stood out to me here, as indicative of how far we still have to go in destroying the stigma and myths surrounding mental health and PostPartum Depression.

"My pride won't let me admit I have a mental illness".

First of all, the fact that pride gets in the way is an indicator that there is still a serious problem with how mental illness is viewed in this country. FAR too many people still see it as a weakness, a defect. NORMAL people don't have mental illnesses, crazy people do. Strong people don't get it. It's seen as a chink in the armor, something that makes you less than others.

One's pride should not be keeping them from saying "Hey, I need help". I've said this before and I'll say it again: there is NOTHING wrong with needing help, with seeking treatment. And not only is it not a weakness, it's a sign (in my book) of strength, of courage. It's really hard in today's society to speak up and say "Hey, I think something is wrong, I need help". To speak up, to reach out when you're drowning for the hand that will save you? In this day and age, that takes guts.

The second thing that stood out to me is the use of the word "Admit". In today's culture, when you "admit" that you  need help with PPD or anything else of the sort, "admit" is seen by many as an admission of wrongdoing, again of weakness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You're not admitting to a crime, you're simply making the choice to say "Hey, I can't do this on my own, I don't even know where to start, someone help me please".

I can't speak firsthand to what it's like to have to reach out for help when you're suffering from anything other than PostPartum Depression. I've seen loved ones go through other mental health issues but that's the only one that I, personally, have dealt with for myself. I can speak, though, to the pride issue as it relates to PPD. With PPD, I felt like I was a bad mom. I felt like a bad wife. I felt like a crappy Christian. I felt like I must be doing something wrong. I felt like I must be failing. I was a new mom, I was supposed to be happy, I was supposed to be over the moon, I was supposed to be adoring my new role. Instead, I was sad. Lonely. Angry. Numb. Every negative emotion you can possibly think of. Sometimes all rolled in to one, sometimes fluctuating between what I felt or even not really feeling anything at all. SOMETHING was wrong with me that was my fault and surely I had messed up. I couldn't tell anyone how I was feeling, they'd know what a failure I was.

The truth is, I wasn't a failure at all. There was nothing for me to be ashamed of. My pride didn't need to get in the way and keep me from reaching out for help. When I finally did, yes it felt like the weakest and darkest moment of my life, but in reality that was one of the strongest. I finally found the courage to confront the beast that had been devouring me, I found the courage to fight back.

If you're reading this right now and saying "Wow, that's me, I know something is going on but my pride won't let me ask for help.", please know that you are not a failure.

Repeat that after me. Say it out loud. "I *insert your name* am not a failure.".

There is no shame in what you are going through. There is no shame in getting treatment. It's not a sign of weakness at all. You're not any less of a person. You are a wonderful person and you deserve to get help. I don't have to know you to know that.

Don't let your pride stand in the way any longer. Help is there waiting for you, you just have to ask for it. You are stronger than you know. You are stronger than your pride. You can do this.

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