Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Stigma and Robin Williams

Precious Robin Williams and the other one million people who killed themselves worldwide this year, I grieve for you.

I grieve that you felt so hopeless that in your mind there was no other choice but death.

I grieve for the families you leave behind.  They must have so many unanswered questions.

I grieve that your depression and/or anxiety won the fight.

These past few days, we all have been bombarded with Facebook posts, blogs, quotes, and debates---all related to whether or not suicide is selfish or whether or not depression is a disease or a choice. In my mind I ask...who cares? Does it really matter?  Someone who feels so hopeless and helpless that they will purposely terminate their own life makes my heart break.  It drives my desire to help hurting people even more - cry with them, pray with them, assure them they are going to get to the other side of the pain.

Unfortunately, there is still a great societal stigma on mental illness, counseling, and therapy.  As a therapist, I see it. 

All. The. Time.

Many clients will start off their first session describing how embarrassed they are, or how weak they feel to have to see a counselor.  Others will continually make sure that everything they say is confidential so no one ever finds out that they are in therapy.   I even had someone remark how grateful they were that our building was on a private road so they were not seen walking in. 
This stigma is what discourages an untold amount from getting help and thereby increases depression...anxiety...suicide.

How can you help change this?  Share with others your own counseling experiences. Tell someone how medicine may have helped you with depression or anxiety. Normalize a new mom's struggles with your story of postpartum depression.   

If you know someone who needs therapy, offer to take them to their first appointment and affirm their decision to get help.

And to that person who needs help:

You are not crazy, 
You are not inadequate, 
You are not weak. 

Mental illness, depression, sadness - whatever you are going through, there are millions struggling with it too. Counseling, therapy, or meeting with a pastor can help. I have seen it work many times. The Bible says “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel."  Proverbs 1:5

On a side note, if you know anyone who is emotionally or mentally struggling, help them in simple ways.  Take them a meal.  Insist on helping with laundry or clean their bathroom.   Bring them groceries.  Those who have been depressed or severely anxious, know all too well how basic daily tasks can be an exhausting struggle.

Written by Melissa Yoak, MA, LPCC
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Melissa Yoak holds a Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Akron and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Malone University. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). She is married to a minister of a local church and the mother of three children.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To Everything There is a Season

With another possible winter storm predicted to hit this side of the U.S. next week, and an unusually hard winter, it feels like spring will never come.

But we know it eventually will. 

For those of you who are struggling with depression, grief, a strained marriage, be encouraged that your "spring" will come too. It may seem on some days that you will never move forward, you will always hurt, you will always feel stuck in the same painful place and at times life may seem hopeless. 

But please keep on fighting.  Please press on (Philippians 3:14).

Because nothing remains the same. Life is always changing. King Solomon declares there will be many seasons of our life--"A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;"  Ecclesiastes 3:14. 

As time goes by, these painful life circumstances will change. 

And these circumstances will change you.  

We are encouraged in Romans 5:3-4 to see that "tribulations worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:." These difficult times will eventually strengthen us so much that we will have hope.  Hope my friends!  What a promise!
And then Spring comes...

Written by Melissa Yoak, MA, LPCC, director of DaySpring Counseling.