Last Monday, the unthinkable occurred in the idyllic, picture perfect community just 10 minutes from my home. A mom who was known to have struggled with depression but seemed to be “doing okay,” shot her children and then killed herself. A week later, it’s become clear that a severe mental illness led to their deaths.
Could this and other tragedies like the recent movie theater shootings have been prevented? I think so. Because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder, people are afraid seek help for fear of being labeled “crazy.” Instead, they try to “mask” their distress by appearing “normal,” which doesn’t work. Likewise, they frequently don’t continue with counseling until they’re well or stay on their medicines because they don’t want to admit the full extent of their illness.
Truth is that each of us is vulnerable to depression, anxiety, OCD or bi-polar disorder depending on what runs in our family and that under the right conditions/stressors, we’ll experience a clinical episode. But, we believe that nothing as bad as the above tragedies will happen because we’ll be able to stop it. Tragically, when you have a severe mental illness and your brain isn’t working right, terrible things can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.
What can we do to prevent such bad outcomes? First, we must let go of any stigma we have about mental illness. Next, acknowledge that depression, anxiety, OCD and bi-polar disorder can affect anyone, including us.
Click here for video- Understanding Mental Issues for Mothers
Know our family’s mental health history and seek help immediately if we start feeling bad and it’s not letting up. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the most we’ll be out is our time and co-pay if we discover you don’t need help. Make certain our loved ones do the same. Insist they follow their health provider’s recommendations until they’re fully recovered and without symptoms for a minimum of six months.
We can make a difference for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s start today.