Breaking the Stigma
As you all know, mental health is something that I am very passionate about. I recently published a post about the stress women place on ourselves to keep up with each other, and how that can create patterns of anxiety and depression. So many of us (men and women) struggle with our mental health on a daily basis. I hope you were able to read my post from a few weeks ago, but if you didn’t, I wanted to include a little snippet for you:
“If you’ve been following me for any amount of time then you know that I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness. #Breakthestigma is a huge passion of mine. As a woman I feel like we are constantly putting pressure on ourselves to have “it'' all together. We set ourselves up in a way that can only end in feelings of inadequacy and disappointment. The bar of “having it all together” is NOT attainable. This is not my opinion, it is a promise, a fact. There is not a woman alive who has it all together, every single one of us struggles in our own way. For most of us, we silently suffer under the weight of our self-criticism. Ladies, let’s stop this shit! Let’s acknowledge our limitations, set realistic goals, and talk about the fact that some days (or weeks, or months, or years) we are a big hot mess. We feel depressed, we feel anxious, and we feel defeated. If we all say these things out loud that unreachable bar will hopefully begin to taunt us a little less. We will be able to hear our sisters, peers, and role models voicing the same thoughts and feelings that we deal with. To me #breakthestigma is about recognizing that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to my mental health. It is recognizing the astounding data that tells us that over 23% of women worldwide suffer from an anxiety disorder, and over 10% of women in the United States (estimated to be 300 million people worldwide) suffer from depression. In my opinion one of the biggest goals of #breakthestigma is realizing that I am, we are NOT alone.”
Aren’t those numbers astounding? In 2018 National survey data showed that more than 8 percent of adults aged 20 and older suffer from low mood, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among women, slightly more than 10 percent have depression, versus 5.5 percent of men. "One of the findings that surprised us the most was that for both men and women, about 80 percent of adults with depression had at least some difficulty with functioning with daily life," said lead author Debra Brody.
These include going to work, completing daily activities at home and getting along with other people, said Brody, of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Something you may not have realized is that depression is an umbrella term, medically it includes multiple different diagnoses including: Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder and suicide.
As I previously shared, one of the biggest goals of breaking the stigma is knowing that you are not alone. The National Alliance on Mental Health asks “Do you have Stigma? Stigma harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence and prevents them from seeking help.”
What frustrates me so much about the stigma of mental health is how often it presents us with the opportunity to use mental illness as a type of scapegoat. It is used as an outlet in which to place blame when we are presented with less than ideal situations or conditions. For example, I suffer from depression and anxiety. Thankfully, due to an individualized medicine regimen, and implementing coping skills I acquired through therapy my mental health conditions are not something I am in an active battle with. Certain environments, and situations may trigger or increase my anxiety, but for the most part I am able to manage my life in a way that allows me to avoid those things as much as possible. So yes, I do have anxiety and depression, but it's not something I suffer from every day. If I snap at you, or you notice that I am in a bad mood- more than likely my anxiety is not the culprit. People with depression and anxiety can experience an entire arsenal of emotions that are not symptoms of their mental illness. Personally, I often feel that if I am not visibly cheerful, the people I encounter will make the assumption that I am depressed or anxious. You may be reading this and having the realization that you are one of the people guilty of this, and that is ok. If you don’t have a mental health condition, there is simply no way for you to comprehend what those of us that do experience and feel. However, as more open and honest discussions take place, people without depression will have the opportunity to expand their understanding and educate themselves more. I am no mathematician, but with depression affecting Americans in such staggering numbers, I feel comfortable in assuming that every American has a relationship with someone dealing with mental illness. Every. Single. One. Whether it is themself, a family member, or friend- and whether it has been clinically diagnosed or not- this affects all of us.
If you know that you are one of the millions of Americans dealing with depression, and you have not sought help for it, I implore you to do so.You are not broken, you are not weird, and you certainly are not alone- so please do not let the stigma be what stops you from getting help. Talk to your doctor. You do not need to see a specialist right away. If you feel that you need help fast there are several help lines that you can call and speak to someone immediately.
The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET.
The National Suicide Prevention life line is open 24/7 in North America by calling 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with someone through their website.
If you don’t have a doctor that you are comfortable with another option is to get in contact with a local counselor or mental health facility. For example, Lynn Thompson Umstead, LPC, NCC, CIRT, CAMS, is the founder and clinical director of Ray of Hope Counseling Services. She is a trained mental health professional, with a Bachelor degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. In addition, she is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a certification as an Imago Relationship Therapist (CIRT), and is also a National Certified Counselor. Lynn also holds a certification as an Anger Management Specialist (CAMS). She has had experience in a wide variety of settings when working with individuals, couples, and families. These settings include in-home therapy, in-patient and out-patient hospitalization programs, group homes, administration of psychological testing in private practice, and in a hospital environment. If you were struggling with infertility problems, anger management, relationship problems, and more, you would seek out Lynn because she has the experience and understanding when it comes to what you are going through.
In fact, all of the counselors at Ray of Hope Counseling Services have quite a few areas of expertise, so I am sure that you could find someone that fits your needs there. A great thing about their practice is that they offer online therapy, so you never need to have the excuse of “I don’t have enough time” anymore. But, if you’d rather go in-person, they also have eight locations all around Georgia, so if you are looking for a therapist Athens, or a therapist in Marietta (along with many other locations), they have a location for you.
If you are reading this and are not local to Georgia, I guarantee that there is a similar option available where you live. I will gladly help you find a local place that you can reach out to. Know that I’m here, and you are not alone.
If you've been following me for any amount of time then you know that I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness. #Breakthestigma is a huge passion of mine. As women I feel like we are constantly putting pressure on ourselves to have "it" all together. We set ourselves up in a way that can only end in feelings of inadequacy and disappointment. The bar of "having it all together" is NOT attainable. This is not my opinion, it is a promise, a fact. There is not a woman alive who has it all together, every single one of us struggles in our own way. For most of us, we silently suffer under the weight of our self-criticism. Ladies, let's stop this shit! Let's acknowledge our limitations, set realistic goals, and talk about the fact that some days (or weeks, or months, or years) we are a big hot mess. We feel depressed, we feel anxious, and we feel defeated. If we all say these things out loud that unreachable bar will hopefully begin to taunt us a little less. We will be able to hear our sisters, peers, and role models voicing the same thoughts and feelings that we deal with. To me #breakthestigma is about recognizing that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to my mental health. It is recognizing the astounding data that tells us that over 23% of women worldwide suffer from an anxiety disorder, and over 10% of women in the United States (estimated to be 300 million people worldwide) suffer from depression. In my opinion one of the biggest goals of #breakthestigma is realizing that I am, we are NOT alone.
I was blessed to meet @drradishabrown during a cooking class at Paleo Numyums last year. Even just speaking with her briefly I could tell that she was a woman's woman. She's the kind of person that champions all females and wants nothing more than to see all of them succeeding at life. When we message she addresses me as "Sis" not babe, girl, or lady (which are my usual go-tos when I'm addressing someone on social media). This may seem trivial, but I think it speaks volumes to who she is and what it is that she is trying to do. I can tell this about her, and honestly I barely know her.
Radisha has helped me to remember that as women we are sisters. As a Christian I believe we are Sisters in Christ, we all are children of a loving God. Even if you're not a believer, though, I'm sure you can ascribe to the idea that we are Sisters in life. If we can buy into this idea, really truly and deeply- y'all, I think that we can improve the quality of life for women everywhere. Let's lift each other up, and support each other. Let's celebrate each other's victories, and hold out a hand to pull each other up when we see someone knocked down.
As your Sister I want you to know that you must invest in yourself. Investing in yourself doesn't mean spending loads of money on massages and Mani/pedis for self-care (although l am completely about that life). What I mean specifically is to check-in with yourself often and find out what it is you need to feel better or feel your best. From there commit to giving that to yourself. Here are some examples.
Example 1: Are your physical limitations and struggles bringing you down? Commit to eating better, or working out. Commit to making and keeping an appointment with a doctor who can help you. Commit to what you need in your individual situation.
Example 2: Have you let your depression and anxiety go unmanaged for too long? Get your ass to the doctor. Take the meds. Find a therapist or counselor, because I swear to you that they are game changers. Whatever your role is in life- wife, mother, boss lady, friend-- you can not fill that role to the best of your ability if you aren't making your mental health a priority.
Example 3: Are you so overwhelmed with obligations and commitments that you can't remember the last time you relaxed and had fun? Start saying "No". If the thought of volunteering for the book fair at your child's school causes you to break out in hives, DON'T DO IT. If you want to start living a life outside of your Mom-mobile then tell your kiddo that a family break from extracurriculars is necessary. It might not seem like it at the time, but I promise that they will still love you.
Whatever it means to you- invest in yourself.
If you live in the CSRA, Georgia, or South Carolina and are interested in how you can invest in yourself I strongly encourage you to attend the Wellness Warrior event happening February 1st at Savannah Rapids in Augusta, Georgia. My sister, Dr. Radisha Brown's brain-child. It is a full-day event that will feature some amazing guest speakers, demonstrations, and exhibits. The day will help you check all of your boxes- mental, physical, nutritional, and spiritual wellness.
Dr. Rashida specializes in the link between your mental health and your physical and nutritional goals. She has invited Onnie Sanford (one of the coolest chicks I know), the owner of Paleo Num Yums to address healthy eating habits. Yogi goddess Bethany Smith will be there leading yoga. Skin expert, Stacy Washington has been invited to share her knowledge so your outside can be as fabulous as your inside. Cindy Foster will be sharing thoughts on mental health and mindfulness, and last but not least Minister Nikita Davis will be there to talk about the connection between spiritual health, and living a healthy life.
You deserve to to be taken care of, and the person who can do that best is you. Attending this event is a great place to start if you want help figuring out what it is you need and how you can go about making a plan to invest in yourself. Another thought I had was that if you are a leader in any way be it a boss, teacher, coach, or youth leader this would be an excellent opportunity for you. You'll be able to gain more insight into nurturing this essential part of the women you lead in order to help them find within themselves their best life.
If you take anything away from my message I hope it's that you are not alone. Wherever you are, whoever you are, I am here for you if you ever need me. Just reach out.
Hey y'all! I'm Layne, a 30-something Southern Belle trying to navigate this craziness we call life. I'm a wife, mom of 2, and all around hot mess. I'm passionate about mental health, and love everything having to do with fashion. I'm living a super blessed life, and I love sharing it with you.