A Real Conversation About Mental Illness
Robin Williams was a great actor and comedian. His death was unfortunate.
This isn’t about Robin Williams though. While a tragedy, we should use this as an opportunity to have a real conversation on mental illness.
At Killing The Breeze, we aim to give you news, information, opinion and commentary on relevant topics and issues from those intimately involved in the subject professionally, academically and socially. This does not preclude us sharing the perspectives of those personally.
Laura Lattman is the principal of the Lattman Law Firm specializing in trusts and estates litigation. She is a Columbia undergrad and American Law school graduate. She is also a wife and a new mother. The clinical definitions and doctor’s references pale in comparison to the power of the words she shared the other day. I will share them with you as an embodiment of the perspective we are trying to give you on the issues we cover.
“I asked yesterday if we could have a real conversation about mental illness. I will start.
Hello, my name is Laura and I suffer from anxiety and depression. These illnesses run in my family. I have suffered from them since at least junior high school. I regularly see a psychiatrist. After law school, I realized I needed more help and started on medication. I wish I had started sooner, because it really improved my life. One of the hardest things for me about being a mom is that I went off that medication while pregnant and breastfeeding. I am writing this today, even though I am scared that people will hold it against me due to old-fashioned prejudices, in the hopes that it can help someone else.
Being prejudiced against people with mental health challenges is just as silly as being prejudiced against someone with cancer: both people have chemicals in their bodies which occur in different proportions than in a healthy person and cause deleterious physiological changes. Both people can be treated by holistic regimens including medication, but both are also at risk of death. Both illnesses can strike anyone from any background.
There is a still a taboo against talking about mental health issues in our country and around the world. That taboo isolates and ultimately kills. I am speaking truth to power about my issues. I hope you will too. I am not looking for pity or pats-on-the-back, but rather for change. I hope we as a society can start to share more freely and perhaps more importantly, allocate public resources to help those with mental health challenges be the healthy and successful individuals many of them can be and at least alleviate the suffering of those for whom medicine does not yet have an answer.”