I’ll preface this #Poundtake by saying it won’t be as light as my usual columns. But I feel it’s necessary because mental health is important. We all remember back in 2008 when Britney Spears infamously shaved her head and took to the streets to give the pesky paparazzi an umbrella beat down. This sent her career and personal life into a downward spiral to the point where she was under conservatorship and ultimately cost her custody of both sons. People blamed “fame” getting to her or poor handling from her team, not even acknowledging the possible deterioration of Britney’s mental state. Today we watch on TMZ as Kanye meltsdown at his “campaign rally” and once again we chalk it up to, “That’s just Kanye!” or “He just hasn’t been the same since his Mom passed.” People may not be realizing that these might be side effects of a bigger issue. Mental Illness was something that was around in my community as I was growing up, but not widely explained. People would write off those who seemed to be suffering from mental illness as a “wacko, crazy,” or the big “R” word. Now that I am older and wiser, please allow me to help you understand why those terms are not acceptable and why people should show a little more compassion.
I’m sure it must be one of the worst feelings in the world to feel like a prisoner in your own body. I have gone through deep stages of depression where I thought at times that the alternative to life looked like a better solution. The worst was about 10 years ago when I was suppressing my sexuality. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, racing thoughts, and no release (I’m talking for months). I pretty much forced myself to come out, because I figured nothing could hurt worse than the mental pain I was inflicting on myself. Once I said it out loud to myself, I instantly felt better. That was the last time I felt so dark like I wanted to be anybody else but myself. I will say again, I could not imagine that agony EVERY DAY for someone who is bipolar or suffering from manic depression. Imagine screaming for help with no one hearing you or getting no answers. Those struggling every day just to get out of bed are stronger than any of us could ever know.
It must make fighting any battle that harder when you’re fighting it alone and it’s taboo to talk about. If someone has a drug addiction, people can sympathize and there’s help available. If someone is an alcoholic, people understand because everyone knows someone and there is a plan in place. Mental illness is different because both parties are reluctant to say anything because there’s a stigma attached to it. Nobody wants to be thought of as “debilitated” or “crazy.” Maybe if someone had lent an ear to Britney instead of exploiting her, there wouldn’t be a #FreeBritney campaign right now. We as a society have a chance to do better with how we treat those who are fighting a silent battle. Don’t scoff at Kanye West when he does his rants and label him #KrazyKanye (even if he is running for President). Britney Spears & Kanye West are without a doubt two of the most successful artists of our generation. They have access to the best physicians in the world and their manic episodes have been widely publicized. The scrutiny of being a celebrity is enough and on top of that they are in begging the public for help to save them from themselves and it’s heartbreaking. If you are not a doctor and a loved one is opening up to you, lend an ear and a hand because help is available. You don’t know what silent battle that person has been fighting their whole life.
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 1-877-726-4727