We can reduce the fear and shame associated with Mental Illness

Yesterday, someone told me that I shouldn’t be opening up certain cans of worms. But, as a writer, I do believe it’s my duty to use words as shields against oppression. I’m not afraid of being disliked; I’m not afraid to take a stand for a just cause. Perhaps I am risking political correctness, but if someone is out to harm others in order to satisfy his or her own narcissistic interests, then I will do what I can to stop the harm.

Many times, I’ve wanted to hang up my pen and stop teaching, but what would good would come of that? I breathe, I eat, I sleep, and I write. Sometimes I write for fun, sometimes I write for a cause, but if in doing either, I step on oppressive toes, then so be it. If people conclude that I am crazy, but good comes out of my words, then I can sleep soundly at night.

There are those who can’t understand why I talk so openly about my own struggles with Depression. At one reading, someone told me that, while they think I do have guts for doing it, people are going to think badly of you. I shrugged their words off, but that attitude is exactly why I think it’s important to talk about mental health: We can’t live in fear of it and we shouldn’t talk about it only when bad things happen associated with mental illness. Many, many people struggle daily with their emotional health, yet they get out of bed, go to their jobs, and function to the best of their abilities. Those are the stories we need to discuss. We need to celebrate the average person who dies the best he or she can, even though they take meds for Depression. They may not talk about it, they may even be ashamed about it, but they face every day in spite of their shame.

Maybe I am crazy, but Depression ain’t got nothing on me. I won’t stop writing from a social justice perspective. Even if everyone concludes that I am crazy and even if my quest to eradicate fear and shame is quixotic, I will write. In writing about my own struggles and imperfections, I believe others may be able to see that they don’t have to struggle and that there is hope. No one has to be ashamed of their own personal struggles; those struggles are common and shared and can be overcome.

**As a reminder, Journey to Aztlan, the story of my struggles with Depression and how I overcame it is now free, today, tomorrow, and Saturday. Please download a copy; the more we learn positive stories, the more we can reduce the fear and shame associated with mental illness. Visit my Amazon Page to download.

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