20: Mental Health: “We see you!”

My conversation with Liz Sweigart: On this, the last Friday in May (Mental Health Awareness Month), I am honored and thankful to have an open conversation about mental health with Liz Sweigart. Speaking about mental health, discussing our own mental illnesses, sharing our inner demons, admitting our personal challenges… are things that most people don’t do. And, it’s that lack of sharing and that lack of open acknowledgement that give mental health a taboo reputation – and causes so many people suffer in silence.

The Liz Sweigart I have known for years is a highly intellectual, highly educated, professionally successful, witty, funny and caring woman whom I greatly admire. In fact, she is one of those people in my life whom I would stop everything to share a cup of coffee with, any day. What I didn’t know until recently is that Liz also lives with major depressive disorder, a chronic condition that periodically left Liz in a dark place.

About two years ago, Liz’s major depressive disorder put her in a particularly dark place. One that, in her own words, she “could not yoga herself out of”. Liz had feelings of deep malaise, apathy, and even suicide. Thank goodness, Liz found the strength and the voice to get help.

Two years later, Liz is in a much better place. She searched for and created a network of medical caregivers, therapists, family, friends and loved ones that support her. She has supplemented her lifestyle with healthy activities that include running, yoga, blogging and yes, even working. Liz is also speaking about it. She openly shares her story and encourages others to share their stories. She also shares messages of hope and optimism for herself and for others suffering from mental illness.

Mental illness is not a stigma. Mental health is not a given. We, as human beings, owe it to ourselves and to each other to speak about it, to care and to support each other.