Letters: Time for openness

Mental health should not be a hidden disease says letter writer

I believe it’s time for an open discussion on mental health in this community. How can we help an individual who exhibits manic behavior publicly but cannot see that she has a problem? Nor can her family, who blame it on stress. Denial is one of the symptoms of alcoholism; it is also a symptom of mental illness? Contributing to the denial is the stigma of mental illness.

Years ago, when I first began outpatient therapy and educational sessions at Eric Martin Pavilion, I would get off the bus one stop early and sneak in the back entrance. I was totally ashamed of having been diagnosed with two mental illnesses; clinical (chronic) depression and borderline personality disorder.

As I learned more about my illnesses I came to realize that mental illness is not sinful, not something that has to be hidden and is not rare. I was told by a psychiatrist (after seeing four others) that there are three chemicals in my brain that aren’t functioning correctly. He prescribed three different antidepressants  that I take daily. I will be taking these for the rest of my life. There are still emotional “down” times. I handle them as best as I can (read something funny, turn on all the lights, go for a walk, etc.) I live as many in recovery do, “A day at a time.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that you can’t cope any more, that there’s no point in living, please see your doctor. He/she will lead you to whatever treatment you need. Mental illness is serious, it can be fatal.

Doreen Effa

Sooke