Saturday, May 10, 2014

Progress

Soon, you will see a bombastic rant here, as my event is eight days away. But in the meantime, I try to remind myself that some of the people participating, are not, although it may seem this way, doing so to annoy me.

A friend texted me with some kind words today, saying she was impressed because the event was "a shitload of work." It is...but I have help.

The fact of the matter is that although we have a long way to go with mental health advocacy and awareness, we have made progress.

On any given day, I am likely to rant about why we are so far behind other health/illness/wellness movements, considering the fact that 1 in 4 adults lives with some type of mental illness, and 1 in 10 children does also. I am prone to getting frustrated when hearing stories of providers who do not listen to their patients, of news media who cover much smaller events than ours for no other reason that we can tell, other than it's not a sexy cause.

And then there are moments when I remind myself that we've come really far even since I was in high school - that we have, in fact, made enormous progress even if we're not on equal footing or where we want to be.

As some of you know, that's when I had the beginning of the bad, bad depression. Times when I wanted to die and had no reason I could pin point for feeling this way. There were no student support groups. There were no campaigns telling people it was OK to talk, that there was hope, that things could get better. There were actually no professionals that we had heard of saying that teenagers could have mental illness.
I'm not feeling sorry for myself as I write this, and I don't want you to be sorry for me either - I'm just saying it was a lonely and hopeless place to be. For me and millions of other people.

Fast forward 20 years. There are green ribbons. There is Mental Health Month. There is Children's Mental Health Day. Insurance companies can't reject people like me just because we're wired the way we are, and they have to pay for us to get help. My organization took the lead on this in my state, before I joined, and I am proud of that.
There are entire organizations, like the one I work for, that support people living with illness and offer supports for our family members and loved ones. There are campaigns to get people to talk about what's going on in their heads, with the goal being that no one should be ashamed to get help. There are awesome people like you, who have encouraged and supported me while I raise money and awareness about the work we have ahead.

Unfortunately there is no cure. I resign myself to the fact that the PTSD will still give me nightmares sometimes. That a handful of days a year, I will be so anxious that I'll want to hide under my desk, or so depressed that I will have to tell myself, over and over, that this will pass. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams to have a partner and family and friends who I can talk to and who support me when this happens. And I know I am luckier than many, many people.

So we keep going. A volunteer told me the other day that when she was growing up in the 50s, no one talked about cancer. It was considered private, embarrassing. Now, we have survivors and overwhelming public support for treatment and recovery and cures.

I am confident we will get there. Until then, we'll keep agitating. And remembering that at least we're no longer in the dark.

24 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Lonely, hopeless and a terrifying place to be. For you, for me, for so many of us.
But we are making steps. Small, and sometimes wobbly, but steps in the right direction.
Yay. And wobbly happy dances too.

Charles Gramlich said...

It sure does help to be able to tell yourself that it will pass. When you're young you just don't know that.

My Girl Murphy said...

Sing it, sister! I propose we work the event naked so that we get some goddamn media coverage! Anything for the cause. Let's see the rock and rollers deal with that!

Ragdoll Mommy said...

Totally agree with Charles Gramlich.

Birdie said...

I like to think how far we have come since the days when those with mental illness were locked up. But yes, we have so far to go. Though I speak about depression on my blog I rarely speak openly about it in my everyday life.

Granny Annie said...

You are the prefect advocate and have done huge amounts of work to create progress for yourself as well as others. You joke and we joke but it is serious and while levity is nice, this is a good eye opener for what it truly means and the number of persons deeply challenged by mental illness.

Ileana said...

Because you've been there and can relate in many ways to those still suffering, I can sense your passion for the cause and putting up with some of the bs you have to go through is so worth it because what you do makes a difference. It doesn't mean you have nothing to rant about (obviously you do!). I'm just happy to know progress has been made, which is why I always try to support the cause every year when you post about it. If I happen to miss your post in the future, e-mail me. I love what you do, chica...and your rants can be quite entertaining, btw.

lgsquirrel said...

I can relate cause I went down the dark rabbit hole myself in my early twenties. I have also been involved with palliative care issues in Malaysia because of my mother's illness and some friends with cancer as well as helping an NGO with their early fundraising efforts. In those early days, nobody wanted to support a cause where the beneficiary dies in the end. It did not make for good press release material. But things really are very different now and this NGO is doing well and doing great work but it has been a slow slog for the last 15 years or so.

Hang in there with your kitty claws and keep up the good fight.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Your dedication is inspiring and your own personal journey fuels all that you do---including the well needed rants at many A-Holes!
I admire your incredible devotion and I hope this Event is FANTASTICALLY Successful!You are a Wonder---you truly are. dear RK!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

No matter how frustrating it may be sometimes, you are doing important, life-changing and society-changing work! You go, girl!

Lynn said...

I had a bout of depression about 20 years ago - it's a scary place to be. Like being in a hole you can't climb out of and you have to keep doing your work in spite of it. I admire the work you do, my friend.

Abby said...

That's some meaningful work you're doing.

Practical Parsimony said...

I have never suffered from depression, but I lost my best friend to depression and her inability to cope.

A Beer For The Shower said...

Amen to all of this. While we still have a ways to go, we also have come a long way. It's becoming less and less the stigma that it once was, and that's awesome in itself. Cheers to progress!

Lee said...

Slow steps, but thankfully the steps are going in a forward direction.

The difficulty is that depressionis such a personal,oblique condition; illness. It's a dark, tormenting demon with a grip of steel and a determined desire not to let go.

Each one of us can so be so easily blinded. People have to remove their blinkers.

We must not allow ourselves to be fooled by facades; by brave faces put on by those who suffer to hide their inner sadness, fragility and turmoil.

Riot Kitty said...

Thanks everyone. PP - I'm so sorry.
Lee - That is exactly what it's like. Exactly.

Vanessa Morgan said...

One step at a time, right? After a while all those little steps add up.

Cheryl said...

I think people are confused and misinformed about mental illness and as with all things that people are ill-informed on they tend to try to distance themselves. I think and hope that as more education and support that gets out to mainstream America (and the world for that matter) people will be more involved. What you do is so very important.


Just as cancer used to be kept under wraps and then later AIDs and HIV were grossly misunderstood, lets hope mental illness issues find a way to be acknowledged at an important cause to support with both money and resources.

Blue Grumpster said...

Not a sexy cause... I hear what you're saying. Only sexy or terrifying is newsworthy. If I weren't so afraid of dying I swear I would've jumped a long time ago. I think what you're doing is wonderful and I'm sorry to hear you didn't have any support groups back then.

CraveCute said...

Strong voices like yours are so needed in this area. I am so glad that progress is finally being made. Keep up the good work!

DWei said...

I have some good news for you. There's this prototype helmet I've heard about, and in theory, wearing it should help with mental disorders like depression.

I don't fully understand how it works myself, electromagnetism if I remember correctly. But don't give up, we'll find a cure for everything eventually.

Betty Manousos said...

that's some wonderful work you're doing. i so admire you my friend.

plus: more often than not we want to isolate as much as possible so we hide as much as we can, including talking about it. (because of my own personal experience), i think that we should be encouraged to believe there is a lot we can do to avoid hitting bottom and to make our recovery much faster.

don't give up and keep up the good work!

big hugs!

Blue Grumpster said...

Meow! Yep, just stopping by again. I know, it's getting boring.

Riot Kitty said...

Blue! Hello.