Battling The Mental Health Stigma.
I’m so glad that people are speaking out more about mental health matters. It’s not something that people, who are already struggling enough, should feel that they need to hide.
I’m not ashamed, afraid, embarrassed, or too proud to say that I have struggled in this area; more than anyone could know.
Years ago, I grappled with situational depression following a really tough period in my marriage. That was the first time I ever had to deal with it first hand. I continued to experience this type of depression, off and on, over a period of time. Even if I began to feel better for a period of time, the heaviness would creep back in when the late fall and winter months approached. I couldn’t decide if it was triggered by the troubled period (that I spoke of above) which began around that time of year, or if it was a type of seasonal depression.
Stubborn and strong willed, determined to push through (with the belief that all would be well), I didn’t talk to anyone about it or seek professional help. My doctor would pick up on “signs” and offered that I should take something that could help. I refused so many times, somehow feeling that taking medicine would mean I was weak or didn’t have enough faith. Finally, knowing that there is a very strong family history of depression, my doctor insisted. I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I took the medicine and it helped, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of shame about relying on medicine to feel okay. I stopped taking it.
Fast forward to the accident that I was in, the one that killed my husband. I was physically hurt, but even when my wounds were healed, I had to face the invisible wounds in my head and heart. That has honestly been a process over the last seven years and is still ongoing. I was diagnosed with PTSD in addition to severe depression and anxiety.
With the help of my faith, the right kind of medication, and intentional work, I have learned to manage these issues quite well. There are some pretty big unprocessed things that still need my attention, but that’s okay. It’s a process. I’ve learned to value myself enough to make my mental health a priority.
I share this for no other reason than to add my voice to the ones that are speaking out about this very important issue. Awareness is key. I also want to help other people feel more comfortable talking about their issues and reaching out for help.
Own your story. Speak your truth. Take care of you.Read More From Joni
I was married to the love of my life, just shy of 13 years. He was my “boyfriend” in 5th grade. I wrote “Joni Roberts” in my notebooks and cheered for him when he played basketball at recess. We went to the prom as friends in 1997, our senior year in high school. We started dating seriously in the summer of 1998. He asked me to be his wife in February of 1999 and we said “I do” on October 2. We had a son in October of 2000, and a daughter 22 months later in August of 2002. We went through more than most could go through in a lifetime but never gave up on each other. In June of 2012, we were in a horrible car accident that claimed his life. In an instant, I was a grieving 33 year-old single mother of two grieving children who are now teenagers (16&18.) I now walk through life without the one that was to be with me forever. Today, I am doing everything I can to be strong, to raise our two children, to take this grief and use it to fuel the purpose for the rest of my days here on earth. ONE DAY AT A TIME. I love and miss my best friend every day and that won’t change until we are together again. I am choosing to try and live my life in a way that would honor him and make him proud.