Monday, February 3, 2014

Mental Health Awareness Week

Please let me begin by applauding you for having the courage for reading my blog despite its discomfort-inducing title.  Most folks cannot even admit their thoughts about mental illness, let alone allow themselves to entertain the possibility that they or someone they know might be suffering from some form of it.

Perhaps a simple, clear definition of this debilitating and taboo disease would help with both its understanding and societal acceptance. Let me first say that the explanation you are about to be given is entirely my own opinion.  I did not consult Mr.Webster or the AMA.

To me, mental illness is an imbalance in the brain due to an overabundance or lacking of chemicals important to normal brain functionality. I believe I'm qualified to define mental illness since I've officially suffered from depression for more than twenty-five years initiated by a painful physical condition that no doctor could identify.  If you take into account that with the untimely death of my dad when I was three-years-old, I probably have been depressed for 66 of the 69 years I've been alive. That makes me an authority on the subject if I do say so myself.

Though millions of dollars have been spent on R&D in our country, to date the reasons people suffer from mental dysfunction remain elusive. In most cases while the symptoms are obvious, the causes for these imbalances are unknown.

Yes, though there are countless pharmacuticals availalbe to alleviate symptoms,  many of the side effects produced by these drugs prohibit sufferers' usage.  Nobody wants to walk around like a cloudy-headed zombie or a hyped-up crazy.

Five years ago, I took matters into my own hands.  I researched my physical condition on the internet, found a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic who not only worked successfully with patients who reported my same symptoms, but actually had a name for it.  I now see a Pittsburgh doctor who has continued the treatment began in Cleveland and for the most part I am asymptomatic.  As my physical condition improved, so did my depression.  Today I am free of the darkness associated with this mental illness and only take a minimal dose of an antidepressant for maintenance purposes.

For me, what began with emotional and physical initiators, turned into depression defined as mental illness.  If I had succumbed to the belief that being mentally-ill was a stigma I would never escape, perhaps this blog would never have been written.  But I didn't, and I did, and since you're reading it, this blog has indeed been written by a strong-minded, healthy, humorous lady who soon will celebrate her 70th birthday.

Instead of shying away from the term, mental illness, educate yourselves about what it really means, who and where to find excellent help, and how to be involved in erasing the taboo the keeps many people in denial and without the proper treatment that could make their lives meaningful and productive.

Dr. Grammy is in the house!