“I remember when I first felt something was wrong. In my sophomore year of college at the University of Iowa, I developed major depression and anxiety. I say developed because this was the time when I began thinking something was off with my brain and my life.
I was sleeping every moment I could. I wasn’t enjoying any of my favorite things anymore. I felt worthless and numb. I remember when, at my lowest points, I felt lost and unsure of where to turn. At some points, it felt like I couldn’t keep living like this. I remember that I would watch YouTube videos, but if you had asked me what I had just watched, I would shrug. It wasn’t anything more than noise to me, something to fill the empty spaces around me.
Eventually, after a semester of suffering, I was able to muster up enough strength and willpower to reach out to the university’s counseling services. From there, I was able to get on a path that would lead to me getting better. But I’m not here to talk about how I’m glad I got better. I’m here to talk about how I’m glad I got help.
One of the biggest barriers to getting help was actually admitting to myself I needed help in the first place. I was ashamed of the fact I had to ask for help. I was ashamed of the fact that I had anxiety and depression. I was ashamed sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed and could only watch YouTube videos all day.
Luckily though, I had access to my university counseling services. I learned it wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I hesitated to tell a lot of people around me. Some people, probably some family too, don’t know I struggle with my mental illness almost every day. But, this isn’t something I need to be secretive about. I can be open about my mental illness because I am not the only one suffering.
Getting help for my depression was simultaneously the hardest and best decision I could have made at the time. It is not an easy path, nor a straightforward one. It was not easy to admit to myself that I needed help. But, I can no longer be ashamed of the thing that is happening to so many people around me, and around the world. I cannot be ashamed of some chemicals in my brain not doing their job.
What I know now, with hindsight, is it is essential for me to be open about my mental health. I can’t be ashamed of something so many of us go through. I can’t be ashamed because the only person the shame is hurting is me.
Now, more than ever we have to talk about how mental health can affect each and every one of us. Now, we need to not be ashamed of our mental illness and get help. Now, we need to help each other, and it starts by not being ashamed.” – Claire Dietz