WARNING: SOME STRONG LANGUAGE! READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!
Ugh, it’s that time again, that time that comes every one to three months where I have to take the walk of shame but to where you ask? It’s sometimes the last place you’d like to be, especially when it because the reason you’re there in the first place involves a rather sensitive issue that I’ve covered in a few blogs. As you take that walk you try to recount where you’ve been emotionally the last few months and if you happen to encounter any “triggers” in your travels through the minefield known as life. It is in those moments this you remember that once again it’s time to see your psychiatrist.
You know it’s the holiday season because the office for some reason is unusually crowded and you know all too well that this is the time of year where stress seems to be at an all time high. Suddenly you go from feeling anxious about the presence of so many people to realizing that we’re all enduring that struggle in our own unique ways. You then realize that you’re not alone and that there isn’t really any reason to be ashamed.
Now those new to this blog or just don’t read it that often are probably wondering why someone as epic as the Epic Autistic would need a shrink? Someone as epic as you should totally have everything together, what could possibly be wrong with someone so epic? Let’s be completely honest about something shall we? I don’t always have my shit together but neither does the rest of the world. Some days I feel epic and some days I feel powerless against my circumstances, somedays I feel inadequate and maybe even useless as does everyone else and don’t say you’ve never felt that way because you’d be lying to yourself.
Now those for those who are new to my life or need a refresher, I’ve done quite a few stints with the beast known as depression and on several occasions contemplated suicide. I started seeing a shrink every 1-3 months as needed so I had a neutral party to unload my problems on. Those who don’t know me that well or think they know me are probably in shock that Flemmings of all people would ever think about taking his own life after all that he has overcome to become the man that he is. People assume that depression is only a chemical imbalance or something that happens or just something you can easily get over and snap out of. Here’s something, come back to me after spending several years of your life getting your ass kicked, getting shit thrown at you, being called a retard, getting rejected by women, getting chosen last for every team sport, getting cast aside and never getting invited anywhere for simply because you’re different or that your voice sounds odd, repress all of that and have it all resurface after your junior year of college and you’ll understand why depression isn’t a joke and why one does not simply “snap out of it”.
Depression can be in my case and in the case of many others the result of remaining strong for way too long. I let my cross get heavier than it should and I crumbled under its weight, I broke down and didn’t know how to handle the reality that there were so many people that hated me and in those dark moments the ones that did love me didn’t mean much because I seemed to always feel the overwhelming hatred of those who thought I sucked. In those moments I thought that the world would be better off without me.
Now before we muddy this blog post with this ugliness that is my periods of depression, let’s get back to why I’m discussing all of this in the first place. Going to see a psychiatrist/therapist can be rather intimidating and one of major reasons is the stigma that is attached to it. No one wants to be caught dead admitting that they go to a psychiatric clinic because in society, going to one automatically means that you’re sick, unstable, and that you can’t keep it together. I avoided therapy for a very long time but when I realized that I was getting really close to being a danger to myself and possibly others I had to do something about it before all was lost. The first time in that clinic was the most nerve racking time of my life. I looked around at all the people and told myself that I didn’t belong there. The only thing that made that day easier was that my psychiatrist is a gamer so I opened up real quick when I realized I was among a fellow nerd.
Each visit got easier but I still felt uneasy about the fact that I was seeing a psychiatrist. Again this was driven by the stigma that comes with being in one of those clinics. People assume you’re crazy and you instantly have a label slapped on to you. There was a really pretty receptionist in that office for some time but I never bothered to attempted to talk to her about anything beyond scheduling an appointment because I was afraid of what label she may had already slapped on to everyone who came through that clinic. In my time of being in that clinic I also realized there were two other stigmas I had to deal with, being Catholic person who battles with depression and being a Haitian/person of color who battles with depression.
Being a Catholic or any other Christian denomination or any other religion with depression carries a nasty stigma, the reason being that if you have to see a psychiatrist then it is assumed by some that you simply lack a strong faith and that you’re not praying hard enough. As a devout Catholic I questioned my faith quite a bit during those dark times and thought that a lot of it was my fault because my faith was weak. I looked at others and saw how passionate and energetic many people were in my church and thought that I just simply sucked at being a good Christian a and that I simply had to try harder. I realized later down the line people were strong in their faith because they either endured the same hard times or they simply were afraid to admit they were hurting and hid behind a faith they never took seriously and used it as a facade to make their problems while they shunned others from then other side.
The second stigma I had to deal with was being Haitian/a person of color who battled with depression. People of color don’t even talk about depression or any other mental illness for that matter. It is assumed to be a white thing in some parts of that community and any black guy who is “depressed” isn’t really depressed, he’s just acting like a bitch and needs to man up and grow some balls. As a person of color I felt incredibly uneasy about labeling myself as clinically depressed. It took me being at the edge of despair before telling my mother what I was dealing with and though she was extremely supportive, I don’t always expect to get that same support from others so I spent quite a bit a of time being closeted about the whole thing.
I write this because we as a society have stigmatized mental illness for way too long. It’s a pink elephant in the room that we don’t feel easy talking about. If your leg or any part of your body is in dire pain what would you do? You’d go to the doctor and have them heal it right? So if we felt mentally unstable why wouldn’t we go to a psychiatrist or therapist to get counseling? No matter how you spin it they’re both the same thing and people should never be shunned for going to a psychiatrist. We as a country don’t talk enough about mental health. Look at all the mass shootings we’ve had in the past few years. They were all committed by young people who had and underlying mental illness or trauma that drove then to the edge. Had they gotten help prior to mentally deteriorating then this wouldn’t be a problem.
There are more people who suffer from mental illness and trauma than you realize but no one wants to admit it. They repress all of their pain until they explode like a shaken soda bottle or can. We should be applauding people for getting help with their problems, not shunning them. If you have the nerve to shun someone and assume that they either have a weak faith or are just not tough enough then you are compensating for a serious insecurity and should be ashamed. Depression isn’t a joke or some random phase that people simply get over. I’ve been visiting that office for two years now and though I still feel anxious at times, I remember that I am in the company of those who despite society’s label of them are willing to admit they need help from someone who understands and who will never judge them. Everyone endures their own trials and it is never anyone’s place to judge. You don’t know how truly difficult someone’s life is until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Everyone has problems and everyone had a different way of going about these problems, some healthy and some unhealthy. Some people resort to drugs and alcohol to solve their problems, why the hell are we looking down on people and calling them crazy for visiting a psychiatrist? Before you decide to judge someone, take a second to ask if it’s worth the time because it never is. I hope this blog post was informative and I hope you take something from my sometimes tragic tale of a life. Stay classy people.