Mental health is not real yet.
People at my university still think OCD means I am simply a clean, efficient, over-achiever who is very particular about the way I like my things and that everyone in our major has OCD. And for your information, occasional test anxiety is not really the same thing as clinical anxiety. Clinically anxious and depressed people are not emo wimps who need to simply stay positive and stay strong. Try simply “staying positive” when your neurotransmitters are misbehaving. They make meds for us for a reason.
I know it’s not real enough yet when an educated, smart, and caring friend can still be someone who tells me that because my life and childhood could not have been as hard as hers, there is no way I have real problems. “Honey, why are you in therapy”.
Something is still wrong when there is an unspoken rule that dictates that my coworkers and classmates can speak openly about the Vicodin they have to take for their back pain, this or that surgery, about their diabetes, their thyroid, their CT scan for their migraines, their method of birth control, but we still have to whisper to a trusted few about the simple admittance that we have something you can find in the DSM-5. I mean, I think your NuvaRing, your pain meds, and your migraines are very personal pieces of health information which may all effect your functioning in some way visible to the rest of us; couldn’t we say the same about anxiety, depression, being bi-polar etc? Probably because you might think I’m “crazy”, but I wouldn’t dare call you that. Maybe because seeing an MD in psychiatry just isn’t the same? Really though, when it comes down to it, all health problems have biological and behavioral components. That doesn’t change when you go from your bladder or your thyroid to your brain. I don’t think less of you for telling me you have this or that syndrome; you are no less professional in my eyes.
I still feel fear in even telling a friend about it; why do I need to feel fear? Why do I need to feel ashamed? Why do I recognize the need to be anonymous on this blog? Did I do something wrong in having an anxiety disorder? I don’t think so.