If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I have learned that anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand, and there is no shame in having either — although it’s tough for many people to get their arms around that concept. When I struggled with both in my last couple years as the Texas Rangers’ baseball play-by-play announcer, the few people in whom I confided expressed genuine shock. “Depressed? About what? You’ve got a great job! Legions of adoring fans! A wonderful family! Dude, what’s your problem?”
Growing up, I had always been, quite naturally, the life of any party. But over a period of several years, I began to stay away from such parties. When I did go and fake my way through, I would usually leave upset, gripped by the weight of having been such a fraud.
Scared, Lonely, Exhausted
At my lowest moments, everything and everyone in the world was a threat. Not just people I knew, but people I knew I’d never meet. Brad Pitt’s looks? A threat. Same for Peyton Manning’s arm, Josh Groban’s voice, Justin Timberlake’s talent, the neighbor’s house...all things to threaten me, instead of for me to simply enjoy.
In an anxious state, all I could see were the things I couldn’t do or didn’t have, and people I couldn’t be. I had no appreciation whatsoever of anything I already was. No matter what I did, the foreboding sense was that it would never be enough. And if the people in my life who mattered had the “gall” to appreciate or acknowledge the talents of others, I took it as a punch in the face. It was a scary, lonely, exhausting way to go through life.
The crux of an anxiety disorder is the complete inability to be at peace with the present moment. Always expecting the other shoe to drop. Waiting for something to go wrong. I’d be racked with guilt about things I’d done poorly and trembling with worry that I’d soon screw something else up too. Professionally, that would all come crashing down within an hour of air time. Quite routinely, I’d seek refuge in the press box bathroom, head in my hands, trying to remind myself “it’s okay. I’m okay.” Sometimes I was…most times I wasn’t.
I remember the first time I knew something was wrong. I was in my junior year of high school when I thought about what would happen if I purposely fell down the stairs. I'd always been an overachiever, but being the year before college that really mattered, I wanted to escape from the pressure that I was going through in school. I didn't have bad grades, but I was struggling with school in a way that I was never used to doing so. I wasn't cutting myself. I didn't feel depressed. But I was willing to hurt myself. And that is a sign of a mental illness.
I remember I had asked to leave class early that day. I probably stood at the top of those stairs for about 10 minutes. I kept picturing myself wearing a cast in my arm and having to stay home for a week. I moved back and forth trying to figure out where the best place to fall from would be to cause just enough harm. Ultimately, those 10 minutes turned to seconds and the school bell rang. My chance had gone away.
EDINBURGH — One of the buzziest shows at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is about depression. Severe clinical depression in fact. Bryony Kimmings and her partner Tim Grayburn’s Fake It 'Til You Make It, which explores in depth Grayburn’s secret depression and nervous breakdown, hogged the headlines over the festival’s opening days and is sold out for its entire run.
They’re not the only artists who have focussed on mental health; this year’s programme is packed with productions that take aim at the issue, from Brigitte Aphrodite’s My Beautiful Black Dog to stand-up Carl Donnelly’s Jive Ass Honky and cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat’s Black, a production whose blurb quotes Maya Angelou: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
If you, or someone you know is struggling, please seek help.
Curtis Vanderloo asked SooToday to publish the following letter about his mother's death last year in the hope that by sharing her story, it might help someone else suffering from the stigma of mental illness.
On March 31, it will be the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.
She passed suddenly and unexpectedly, only she didn’t pass suddenly.
She died by suicide. She killed herself. She took her own life. She died by her own will.
Only it wasn’t unexpected, she was depressed.
She was suffering deep grief related to her own parents passing.
She had Seasonal Affective Disorder, she was manic.
Estela Villanueva-Whitman, Special to the Register; 11:05 p.m. CDT May 18, 2014
The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in her 20s came as a relief to Hope Richardson. There was finally a name for what she felt and something that could be done, she said. Because mental illness is a lifelong condition, staying well takes effort, and she's mindful of that every day.
Once afraid of others not liking her and unable to stand up for herself, Richardson said she often walked around with her head down and hair covering her face. She went through bouts of depression and struggled with anger, manic episodes and suicidal thoughts.
Early on, she was hesitant to talk about her condition.
"I didn't want people to know. I was kind of embarrassed and ashamed," said Richardson, 44, of Des Moines.
Through therapy and support, she has learned to "live with," rather than "suffer," mental illness and says the only way to end stigma is to educate others.
She's part of a group of trained speakers who open up about their disorders through In Our Own Voice, a public awareness program sponsored by the National Alliance for Mental Illness Greater Des Moines. The local chapter began offering the program last fall.
Sharing their stories serves as a type of ongoing therapy for the speakers and a chance to paint a realistic picture of mental illness, which affects one in four adults — about 61.5 million Americans every year. One in 17, or 13.6 million Americans, live with a serious mental condition such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
At twenty years old, my 6 year battle with anorexia nervosa had finally caused my life to come crashing down.
My eating disorder had taken complete control of my mind and dominated my every thought. In just a few months I had lost over 2 stone, had drastically reduced the amount I was eating to just 200-300 calories a day and was wasting the little energy I had on excessive exercise. For so long, my ‘diet’ had given me a false sense of control and now it was apparent that, in reality, it was something that was controlling me.
I was finally forced to reach out for help when my starvation and decreasing health made it impossible to keep up with my student lifestyle. I had become depressed, was in a constant state of anxiety and no longer had the energy to pretend everything was OK. I was lost, confused and desperate for a way out, but felt unable to confide in any one.
My thoughts were so distorted by my illness; I was convinced that I was ‘much too big’ to have an eating disorder, despite being underweight, felt my friends and family would not understand, thinking I was just an attention-seeker. However, when I finally found the courage to reach out for help, the response I received was over-whelming and I could not have got where I am today without their support.
For a long time I was in denial of how ill I was, and was under the delusion that I would be able to continue at university and recover. However, it soon became clear that this was not possible and the decision was made to suspend my studies, return home and concentrate on recovery. I was diagnosed with anorexia and referred to a specialist eating disorder team, consisting of a psychologist, an occupational therapist and a dietician.