There is so much to be said about mental health, but I want to start out with this thought. Of course there’s a stigma around the words “mental health”. When someone says the word mental, you immediately conjure up an image of a McMurphy (Mac) from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” I picture Jack Nicholson with the crazy eyes and all his outlandish lines like, “Is that crazy enough for ya? Want me to take a sh on your floor?” The characters in that movie set an image for how we react when we hear the word “mental,” and it’s not a pretty picture.
I read an article today about a woman who writes a food blog, whose had anxiety and depression since she was a little girl. She said several things in this article, which resonated deeply with me. She has always felt that she was the only person out there who felt like she did, and that she was somehow broken. When she has panic attacks, it feels like she is either losing her mind or dying. That’s spot on – “Losing her mind” is a perfect description of a panic attack. Apparently, her family came up with a name for her feelings when she was younger, “Gricky” – which is a combination of gray and icky – because honestly there was no other way to describe how she felt. I get it.
When I told my sister I was writing about mental health, she wanted to know which family member I was going to throw under the bus! Trust me, this is not a coming out piece, but I’ve experienced panic attacks my whole life and they are impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t had them. This blogger used the word gricky, my family used the word dizzy spells...until one day, when I was in my 20s, my father read an article that was all about panic attacks and we felt like we finally knew what my “dizzy spells” were. It was shocking, because prior to reading that article, there was no doctor who could explain why I would get dizzy, freeze up, and nearly faint for no reason at all. The term “panic attack” didn’t exist.
We also learned that something was triggering my dizzy spells (that’s the million dollar question for anyone suffering from panic attacks), and so it was a real eye opener for us. Does this mean that I have mental health issues? I guess so. Do I want to be called mental? Not necessarily. I would love to find a way to alleviate panic attacks for everyone and anyone who experiences them, because they are debilitating to live with. Yes, you can do yoga, you can meditate, and medicate, but that’s not always the answer. Because what’s worse than having an actual panic attack, is the fear that you are going to have one...but again, only us crazies understand that way of thinking.
Why is it that if I told someone that I was going in for surgery, that I would receive flowers, sympathy cards, and friends visiting the hospital? But if I were to tell someone that I experience terrible panic attacks and therefore don’t want to go somewhere fun with them, it’s crickets? Where did everyone go? I’m not crazy, well maybe just a little.
When I read about the kids who commit suicide because they become depressed and don’t have the tools to cope, it kills me. They aren’t given the tools because all anyone talks about is how great their lives are, where their kids are going to college, and how their little league team just won the World Series, again. Nobody talks about how their kid may be struggling with depression/anxiety, eating disorders or anything else that doesn’t fit the social norm. Social media is the new world that we live in, but it is so fake. While I love social media, I also believe that this false sense of perfection we all put out there contributes to the depression that some people feel when they are sad and insecure to begin with.
Perhaps if we came up with a name that didn’t include the word “
What say you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.