In my book Redeemed From The Ashes, Carl, the husband of my protagonist, suffers from “the nerves” after fighting his part in WWI. Today we call it PTSD. As I continued to watch his character unfold, I felt a need to understand, to learn more of the horrors which haunted servicemen of the past and haunt servicemen of the present. The history of this mental impairment I will tackle in a future post. Now I wish to crush the stigma.
Within the past two years, my awareness of social stigmas has increased as never before. Depression, suicidal tendencies, PTSD—these are just a few mental impairments that plague our society, sometimes targeting specific age groups or groups of people in similar circumstances. I’ve recently realized how broad the brushstroke of these impairments are. Two months ago a young man shared his story on battling anxiety and heavy depression. Last week I spoke with a woman who’s husband suffers from PTSD years after his last war tour in Afghanistan. My eyes were opened. They weren’t numbers but hardened lives.
If you’re thinking ‘this is what I’m struggling with (or something equally debilitating)’ while you’re reading this, you need to know that you’re not a social stigma. You are a person created in God’s image. You have gifts and passions. You are a blessing.
I suffered from intense acute depression when I was 8-12. It wasn’t because my parents were awful or that I didn’t have friends or that my life was miserable. Quite the opposite! My parents were always so loving. I had lots of friends. I was perfectly happy most of the time. However, I had triggers that would turn my happy world into a world where I contemplated ending my life. Most of the time, those triggers would involve my failure in some way or another. I even remember what I would use and how I would use the object to end my life. Thinking back now, it’s scary.
It’s crazy to think that even though people from around the world are at our fingertips and we can communicate through different means that many of us still feel so alone, so ashamed of the struggles we endure. We’re afraid to voice our inner demons, fearing rejection and ridicule. The sad truth is that we all encounter these spites. However, many times the people who throw them our way are as in just as much of a pit as we are. It could be the same one; it could be a different one. And many times they don’t even know it.
They are also people out there who are eager to listen, eager to help in any way they can. They don’t view you as a social stigma but as someone in need of love.
I just want to challenge those of us who don’t suffer in these ways to be careful how we talk about those who do suffer with our friends, colleagues and family. We can be so careless with our words and jokes. Who knows if a sufferer stands in our midst?
If you’re comfortable in opening up, I would love to hear your story. Or if you’ve been on the giving end, please inspire us in the comments.