An Open Conversation About Mental Health
This week on RHOD Season 3, Episode 2, we witnessed numerous examples of why being open and honest with each other is so important. Discussions ranged from Brandi and D’Andra with the “drug” use, D’Andra and Dee (her mom) and the mother-daughter dilemmas, to Stephanie and LeeAnne’s moment in which they shared their common bonds in depression and even suicide attempts. It is this very relevant topic I want to focus my blog this week.
During D’Andra and Jeremy’s anniversary party, Stephanie opened up to LeeAnne about her
attempt at suicide in her 20’s over a relationship loss. They shared a close exchange of the heart and a connection which hopefully will grow. Knowing the deep sadness of depression and the struggle they both have experienced, it provides an opportunity for commonality in their “friendship”.
LeeAnne conveyed her own struggle with depression and we have heard her story before about her attempt in suicide as well. She still carries the scars of the negative and toxic feelings of worth she has buried from her past. The impact of these memories and the molestation by a friend’s father strengthen her own perception as self. Yet, LeeAnne is a survivor and even though her explosive personality is unleashed on others at times, she truly believes in the passion of supporting others in their own challenges. She admits to her own behaviors and has pursued many therapeutic measures to assist her journey to be one of more peace and joy with less reaction and resistance. This year she is engaging in meditation to find her inner calm, as we watched during episode 1. We will see if this new strategy has a more positive effect on her life. I share this quote, which I believe LeeAnne would be a firm believer, “When you feel like giving up, just remember the reason why you held on for so long.”
Stephanie and LeeAnne whisper together at the table how they each work through their depression and what it is like on a daily basis. Mental health challenges are no different than a chronic illness you may have in your life. It is a daily “check and balance”, an evaluation of how you are doing to stay your healthiest. I agree with LeeAnne in regards to “giving” and focusing on others and their life challenges or joys in order to support the more positive feelings which keep your mood more elevated and away from the darkness of depression.
As Stephanie and her mom have a touching heart to heart moment, she remembers when she, herself, had been in a controlling relationship with a guy in college. During their relationship, he consistently made her feel like she was “less than”, less than smart, less than pretty, less than wealthy, and she would be less than if she wasn’t with him. When they broke up, it left Stephanie with the loss of relationship and of friends whom they both shared together. A lot for a 22-year-old to endure themselves.
As a result, she found a bottle of pills and took them. Realizing her strong family values and her personal foundation in faith principles, she stumbled down the hallway to find her mom. Thank goodness for the open and honest relationship she had her mom who was there for her when Stephanie needed her the most. Her mom, Susan’s, powerful presence provided Stephanie the voice and support in her moment of crisis. Without this occurrence, what would have happened? Stephanie’s beauty, inside and out, as well as her influential message for others would have been lost to the world.
Isn’t that how abuse starts? Has anyone made you ever feel less than in life? A guy? A friend? A boss? In my past career, I have supported youth who have dealt with depression and even attempted suicide themselves and children dealing with emotional difficulties after witnessing a parent attempt suicide. One thing I learned with suicide, it touches everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic level, education, geographical area, religion, or culture. It’s also tough to talk about with others. But the more that we do, the more it opens the conversation for others to know they can get help. Steph was blessed to have a mother she could talk to and she knew she was loved and supported by her family.
No matter what the “pretty package” we all portray in life, we each, especially women, have our challenges with self-worth, and even self-love. When others attack our feelings of self, just as the relationship Stephanie had and in regards to the molestation of LeeAnne, it changes the person we see in the mirror to one that is ugly, not talented, and ________. You fill in the blank. It is in the rebuilding of our inner love and self-esteem which creates the new formed awareness of our true worth.
As you heard, Stephanie never wanted to disappoint her parents or her family. She always was concerned that she would be letting them down. We many times don’t want to let others into our “fear” and insecurity we feel in life. We own our personal pain in many ways. We have some version of pain and we hide it from those closest to us. We don’t let others truly “see” us. Susan, Stephanie’s mom was trained as a social worker and knew the signs. Yet, sometimes we cannot always understand how our children are feeling, therefore, the discussion needs to be opened further in our lives and our communities.
With the spotlight in the news recently over the celebrity suicides with Kate Spade, Demi Lovato, and Anthony Bourdain, we are just beginning to see more about the influence of not feeling seen, feeling like we have failed in life even when we haven’t, and the need for approval and worth at a deep level. Let’s continue the conversation!
Take a moment. Save a life. Listen to a friend. Be there for others. It is your life, your voice that needs to be heard, your heart that needs to be shared, reach out. For immediate help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone who knows exactly what you’re going through.
Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it?
That is called purpose.
You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.
Until next week…stay tuned,
For more of the story, my book, entitled, Step OUT, Step UP. Step Forward: How to Walk in Purpose, will be out next month.