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George’s Story

“If you know someone who is struggling, PLEASE reach out and offer help.”

Share your stigma experience.

When I was very young, things began to change for me mentally. I began experiencing episodes of severe depression with intense confusion leading to very erratic behaviors that I did not understand. Until then, I had always been a happy kid who enjoyed life. I know many are probably saying “depressed? We all get depressed”. That is what I said to myself so began to hide those times from everyone when I could. It took many years to realize how to recognize my depressive, manic, irrational episodes. With that realization, I became an “expert” in my own way of hiding those episodes which could last from weeks to a few months. Over time, I became pretty good at hiding my struggles but, as years passed, my depression and confusion became worse often lasting for several months. My way of hiding it was to uproot myself to create a new life somewhere else and start over. That seemed to work for many years but wasn’t going to last. Over the years, I had tried many different medications and forms of counseling for depression but nothing really seemed to work. My mental health began to decline to a point when I could not pull myself back like I used to. I remember very well when that was happening and did not know what to do. It was the most frightening part of my life. That was the first time I openly reached out for help. Unfortunately, those attempts were not heard and my mental health drastically declined. I eventually lost my job, my apartment and, ultimately, what was left of my mental stability. I had finally hit that proverbial “rock bottom”. Unfortunately, that is what had to happen for me to get the help I needed. I finally met a doctor who understood what I was experiencing and officially gave me that diagnosis that I avoided for so long! Since then, I have been on a medication that works and take part in ongoing counseling to help me remain mentally stable and healthy.

How did you overcome this experience?

I never want to fall that far again so no longer want to hide that part of my life. Hiding it is a big part of why I fell so far and lost so much control. I wanted to open that door to mental illness and keep it open so that others could learn from my experiences. I have since been able to use my struggles with mental illness to help many of the clients with whom I have worked. I have become an advocate for those with mental illness through Mental Health Minnesota and MakeItOK.org.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

I felt like I was alone for so long. If you know someone who is struggling, PLEASE reach out and offer help. If you don’t know what to do. find the mental health resources in your area so you know where to turn.

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