Why Does It Take A Death To Talk About Mental Illness?


“I have depression.”
“I self-harm.”
“I struggle with an eating disorder.”

These aren’t typical conversation starters. It seems as if we try to avoid discussing such serious issues. I rarely hear anyone in the media talking about the 15-year old who can’t eat because they feel as if they are too fat. But why? Why are we so scared to talk about the issues that are hurting people? Why can’t we openly discuss what makes people feel as if there is nothing else that they can do other than harm themselves or even take their own lives?

The stigma behind the words ‘Mental Illness’ keeps the issues in the dark. There is such a negative light shed behind those words. I’m not going to sit here and say that it should be super easy to talk about these things, because it’s not. They are dark and scary issues. However, it breaks my heart to know that someone famous needs to die in order for mental illnesses to be openly talked about. It isn’t just a once in a great while feeling for people suffering from depression. This isn’t just a once in a great while death. This illness affects millions of people every day in one-way or another. This illness has killed many people, not just one person.

So, here I am to discuss it. I have struggled with eating, self-harm, and depression for years. I have been suicidal. Writing this right now is extremely hard for me, and that’s the worst part of it all. It shouldn’t be hard for me to talk about. It’s a big reason as to why it has taken me almost a decade to decide that I needed to talk to someone who could help me conquer the thoughts that are controlling me.

For those people, including myself, who have dealt with one or many of those mental illness issues out there, Demi Lovato coming out and discussing her own personal struggles was a sigh of relief. For about a year, the topics of self-harm, eating disorders, and mental illness in general, were discussed in the media and in people’s daily lives. However, three years after Ms. Lovato’s revelation, and the issues are back in the dark.

It shouldn’t be this way. It should be easier for people to admit that they need help, but it isn’t. There is always a struggle in my mind between whether or not I should talk about my feelings and issues. Half of the time, I’m afraid that I’m going to be judged for what I’m feeling. It’s sickening; no one deserves to be judged for how they feel.

Time and time again, I have heard, “It will be okay,” “It could be worse,” or my favorite, “Just let it go.” Those sayings make me realize how hard it is for people to even grasp the idea of mental illness. If you’re suffering with some sort of mental issue, I’m sure you can understand how hard it is to “let it go.” That’s like telling someone who just lost a family member to “get over it.”

Struggling with a mental illness is an ongoing battle. It’s something that is dealt with 24/7. Since it’s such a big deal for so many people, it should be able to be discussed. Maybe if it is talked about more, people who aren’t currently struggling could somewhat understand what a mental illness is and how controlling it be.

What I want is for “I have depression,” “I self-harm,” and “I struggle with an eating disorder” to be the kinds of things that are accepted in today’s world. The more people that talk about it, the more socially acceptable it can become. Let’s show everyone struggling that it’s okay for them to feel what they feel. Let’s not wait for one more person to hurt themselves, or even kill themselves, before these issues can be openly discussed once again. Break the stigma. Break the silence.

featured image – Lâm HUA