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The Stigma That Jeff Built

While I spent 20 years not addressing my mental health, I was able to build a strong stigma against mental health and seeking help for my mental health reasons. I was the first one to say a person was weak and selfish for committing suicide, even though I was continually plagued with suicidal ideology. It was one of the mean things I would say to myself that suicide is for weak people as a means to try to keep the voices at bay and ultimately stay alive. I think one of the ways I stayed alive during the 20 year battle was placing a stigma about reaching out for mental health help. I had myself convinced that anyone who would seek mental health was weak mentally, even though I was the one who needed the help. My feelings were if I was to seek help that I would now be considered the weak individual, who could not contain the chemical imbalance in my brain.

Over the 20 years I made a few attempts at seeing a doctor with regards to my mental health, but I would not be totally forthcoming, not keep my follow up appointment, or take the medication that was prescribed. Each time I would see a doctor they would continually bring up that therapy would be a good option because I was not giving them the full story of what I was dealing with. I would just tell the doctor that I was a little depressed and anxious; and that it was caused by stress from work. All of that statement is true, but the problem is I was not forthcoming about the truth of the full extent of what was going on in my head. I never told the doctors that I had commanding voices on a daily basis and that suicide had been made into a viable option to my life. That I even had a plan for how I was going to commit suicide to make it look like an accident so my wife would get my life insurance plan. So for 20 years I looked at mental health resources as if they were for weak people and that wasn’t me, I had my shit together, NOT.

Eventually it all imploded to the point that regardless of what I would tell myself suicide became a valid and viable option. I had stopped saying that suicide was for weak people and it became real. It was at that time that I abruptly quit my job as a Geological Engineer. The voices had gone unchecked for over 20 years and I finally could not convince myself that suicide was non-valid option. My life was pretty much in a wreck. On the outside it may have seemed that I had my crap together, but on the inside I was broken. My way of thinking was failing me.

It has taken me 5 years of therapy to unravel the stigma that I have placed upon my mental health, that is one of the reasons that all I normally say is I have a chemical imbalance and very seldom refer to what is actually the problem. I am happy that today I have my mental health under much better control due to seeing a therapist once a week, typing to my therapist daily, a wonderful prescriber of my medications, and most of all a very supportive wife who helps me use my safety plan. Yes, I still fall apart, yes, at times the voices are still present, and a couple weeks ago I was attacked by black bird like figures, but I am alive and for the most part I deal with very little suicidal ideation. In the last year I can now finally say “I am OK not being OK”.


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