Psychiatric and psychological therapy have been in my life, on and off, since I was 15 years old. In that adolescent year, the heft of the world fell on my head and I couldn’t find Toni Brown anywhere. She went MIA. She left. She became invisible and non-existent. This is called mental illness in the form of severe neuro-chemical depression.

This pain-saturated condition appears, stays for a pretty long time (six months to a year and a half) and then re-appears in about eighteen to twenty four months. (At least, that was my pattern.) During depression’s appearance, the person with this disorder usually sees a psychiatrist who prescribes psychotropic drugs. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. It’s pretty much a crap shoot and one tries lots and lots of drugs until the right combination shows up: waning depression descends and there is less of a desire to just run away to another galaxy. 

I can’t possibly remember how many drugs I tried until the right one worked. It took many years and more patience than imaginable. Many times I had to stay with my parents as a woman in her thirties because I wouldn’t eat or dress or water the plants or take care of myself. I didn’t have the physical strength or the slightest interest. They were deeply involved for the whole two and a half decades. It’s a BIG STORY and it’s in the book GABRIEL AND ESTHER.

Usually, the person with this disorder also sees a psych therapist or a professional with Masters in Social Work, because these people too are trained therapists. Therapy is an invaluable tool. It is why I am so introspective and thoughtful about my behavior. It has taught me to think with a depth of perception that I never would have reached without it. It’s about as hard to find the right therapist as it is to find the right drugs. There are a gazillion therapists

practicing their profession and so, it too, is a bit of a crap shoot. I pray to be led to the just-right therapist and often I am. Sometimes I have to have a few sessions with more than one therapist. I have lived in MANY places and that is why I have had to search for the just-right therapist. But it is oh so worth the search. It has saved my life as easily as any drug. I still see a therapist, although I have not been clinically depressed since the late 1980’s. Sometimes I need a tune up.

The terrible, awful and completely unnecessary human behavior that still, at this point in the twenty first century, lingers to haunt and stunt is the prejudice about mental illness. This disease might as well be heart disease or diabetes. It’s simply another human disease in the pantheon of diseases. So many lives could be saved or at  minimum, not have to stand the ridicule of people who are ignorant about mental illness. When I was very ill, I know my parents were quiet about what I and they were going through. It just wasn’t talked about much at all in the 60’s and 70’s. I personally didn’t care about the damaging gossip; I was too sick to care. My daily job was to not kill myself.

In order for this to be an “acceptable” disease, the chatter has to change to “WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? GIVE ME SOME GUIDANCE. A PAMPHLET. A SUMMARY. SOMETHING!  And know this for certain: IT IS NOT THE PERSON’S FAULT. And know this too: Depression is just one diagnosis. There are many: Bipolar. Schizophrenia. Borderline Personality Disorder. Panic Disorder. Agoraphobia. And the beat goes on.

Please let’s get this straight. The disease itself is enough to deal with. Mocking, bullying, imitating, looking at people as though what they have is contagious ….. helps no one. Please be kind. We need it so badly.