you are not alone in this fight


So last night, I had nothing but nightmares from the instant I fell asleep. I woke up five or six times that I remember, each time unable to remember the dream but clearly able to remember the terror and dread.

I have been so unsettled and upset since I woke up, and I can’t even remember the clear details of the dreams so I can at least try to process them and get on with my life. I’ve had a ton of generalized anxiety all day, so I went to NAMI to do some research and see if there’s something I can do to help myself. It looks like it’s just my brain being a dick (exhaustion from travel, jet lag, and missing my regular medication time because of all the timezones I’ve been in recently will contribute to that) and it’ll get steadily better as the day goes on.

And yet, I feel like this right now:

  • Me: Who’s there?
  • ?: ANXIETY.
  • Me: Anxiety who?

Gallows humor, y’all.

It’s especially frustrating to know that it’s just a thing I kind of need to wait out (everyone’s anxiety is different, but this is how my particular version of it works), but it’s also incredibly reassuring to know that I just have to wait it out while my brain gets back into normal balance … and now I have a (mostly) guilt-free excuse to watch The Avengers when I should be doing other things. The thing is, I wouldn’t know that it’s going to get better if I hadn’t spent lots of time talking with my doctor and other humans who suffer from depression and anxiety. I wouldn’t know how or why it happens to me without warning if I hadn’t gotten professional help, and I wouldn’t know how to handle it and make sure that I don’t let it completely take over my life.

So because I was visiting NAMI this morning, I wrote about it on my Tumblr. I’m reprinting what I wrote there because it’s important to me that as many people as possible see this: You are not alone in the fight against mental illness.

NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) is an organization that I am proud to support. NAMI helps people with mental illness get the treatment they need so they can get their lives back.

One of their major campaigns is to remind people YOU ARE NOT ALONE in the fight against mental illnesses like Depression. The link above goes to a webpage full of stories (likely trigger warnings, gang) from people who have battled Depression and are currently winning the fight.

Please know this: if you have Depression, you do not have to sufferThere is help available, including talking therapy and safe, effective medications to help balance the chemicals in your brain so you can feel normal again. To borrow a phrase from my friend Jenny Lawson: Since I got treatment for my particular flavour of mental illness, I may have Depression, but Depression doesn’t have me.

Here’s my blog on my personal battle with Depression, if you’d like to get a firsthand account of my experience with mental illness.

Please, if you’re suffering, know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and you don’t have to suffer. You can get help. Please do.

116 thoughts on “you are not alone in this fight”

  1. My curiosity always is “Am I being silly?” Because I don’t know that it’s worth medicating. I don’t know if it would help. I get the Knock Knock. But most of the time, I think if I just could rationally get through whatever it is that is freaking me out (I make lists of stuff that I stress out about, and try to see how each one is not nearly as world ending as I think), then I’ll be calmer. And I just never am.

    And mental health care is expensive, and SO not covered in my health plan.

    1. Sarah, it’s great that you’re going about this rationally.

      But a chemical imbalance is rarely conducive to rationality. I know because I’ve been there, and I’m still there. I’ve suffered from not just regular ol’ Depression but Postpartum Depression as well. No matter how hard I tried to rationalize my feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, frustration and despair, I couldn’t pull myself up. Even when I knew I was acting “silly”, I still couldn’t stop feeling what I was feeling.

      That’s when I talked to my family doctor and told her I needed help. I can completely understand your concerns about health care – and the additional stress that puts on you. But talking with your doctor at a regular check-up doesn’t hurt anything. (Please note that I’m not trying to make any assumptions on your end; just providing my two cents worth and support to someone who reminds me of me.)

  2. While I am sorry you have to live with these issues I have to say it is wonderful to hear celebrities with these kind of mental health problems speak up about them! My older brother has bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, and I know it makes him feel better to see other people with similar issues living life to the fullest! I am so proud of my brother, he has come so far in his personal fight with his illnesses and has not let them keep him from working, having a social life, and having fun! Yes, like you, he has bad days, but they are much less then they were, and he knows they will not last and that helps him thought the tough times!

  3. Thank you Wil. I had some stuff go totally pear shaped for me today, and I was very nearly not ready to have the rug pulled out from under what I was doing in terms of my writing. I know how bad anxiety, stress, and depression can be, and I know how much I need to manage that on a daily basis.

  4. Thank you. I suffered sever anxiety in 2001. My dad gave up the goods that he had a walking breakdown in college and I knew my mother and grandmother both suffered too. It’s the great untalked about disease in the United States. But since it has become one of the measuring sticks of my life. I survived that, I can survive anything. Bring it. I wish you rest and peace. And to anyone else who suffers in silence, you can survive depression and anxiety. Seek out help. And don’t be ashamed. You are not alone.

  5. Yer ok bro. Sometimes I think you’re a dick, but aren’t we all sometimes. Had a tremendous battle that had me in UCLA in the ICU for a month last year so I feel ya.

    Come out to Vegas and we’ll go bowling and I’ll buy you a beer.

  6. Thanks Wil…..

    Missing the drugs due to timezones etc must really screw with your head. I know it screws with me if I simply take one a bit later than it’s meant to be.

    I hope this gets better, for all of us…. one day :/

  7. Thank you. There are not enough people that speak out about mental illness and living with it because of the fear of being stigmatized. It helps to know there are others out there going through the same struggle, day in and day out.

  8. i keep my mind occupied in fantasy, i stick on my headphones and let the world fuck off (pardon my bad language) for awhile until it passes. Also been on an 80s kick this week 😉 sometimes helps, sometimes doesn’t but it never lasts long. I’m changing my medication on friday hopefully, so it the “bad days” won’t last as long as they have been doing. Thank you for talking about something that really is a personal battle. xxxx

  9. I <3 that you are speaking out for those with mental illness. I know it helps. My issue is for those with types of mental illness that medicine and therapy don't help. Have you found anything to help them? I have something like Border-line Personality Disorder, where it is very difficult for me to make choices (feels like having a panic attack) and also I deal emotionally at a stunted age (meaning, intellectually, i'm 31. emotionally i'm more-so 13). I'm a very logical thinker, and I know what my problem is, but haven't found anything that works. Since you know a lot on this subject (mental illness, obviously) I was wondering if you had any advice.

  10. Anxiety is a Dick!
    I have been lucky of late that I haven’t had any attacks but just last week I got a small reminder that Anxiety is just patiently waiting until I am stressed out and tiered. Then it’s, hey remember how the mere presents of other people affects you, and then the attack starts with the sweating, the increased heart rate and the growing urge to run and hide.

  11. The worst thing about mental illness is that there’s nothing rational about it. You can’t trace it back to anything you’ve done wrong, it’s just that your brain has a faulty thermostat. (And gosh darnit, why can’t I call in Bob Villa to come fix mine, and then we could hang out and play with power tools and wear flannel shirts??)
    Thank you for the shout-out to NAMI. We’re all in this together, crazy-types and supporters alike! <3

  12. On August 15th, 2006, I lost my dear friend Caroline Newell to suicide. I wish I’d have known these resources then, maybe she would still be with us now. Thank you so much for sharing. I know sharing something so personal must be difficult. And if it can help even one person, then it was worth sharing, right? Depression has affected many people in my life, and Anxiety issues are something I deal with every day. But, knowledge is the best weapon, against just about anything. So, with that said, Thank You Good Sir. I appreciate you, your fight, and the information you’ve shared! <3

  13. Here’s one of the tools in my toolbox that someone else may find useful when the brain starts pitching an armed revolt. I ask myself:

    1-Have I taken my meds? (if not, take them, duh.)
    2-Have I eaten in the last six hours? (if not, go eat something healthy)
    3-Have I slept in the last 24 hours? (if not, go nap)
    4-What time of the month is it? (This is less useful for men, admittedly)

    If I haven’t taken meds, eaten, slept, or it’s the wrong time of the month, I fix it, then I hunker down and wait a couple of hours before acting on any impulses. And I do mean ANY. If it’s a larger decision than which movie to watch or video game to play, I don’t do it.

    If I have taken my meds, eaten, slept, etc., I give it eight hours. If nothing’s better after eight hours, I call my doctor.

    It might seem like an obvious set of things to do, but you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget any of those variables when your brain is busy trying to kill you in new and inventive ways.

    1. I love this checklist – thank you!

      For my particular flavor of deprexiety-soup, I have to talk myself through hyperventilation attacks. I try to do some sort of repetitive action, like tapping my fingers, to have something to focus on besides OMG I CAN’T BREATHE ARGH.

      People like Wil and Jenny who talk about their struggles are awesome. It absolutely does help to know you’re not alone.

      I’m off to share that link to NAMI now.

    2. Something I do to cope with the recent addition of anxiety attacks to my life, is to stop whatever it is I’m doing that is freaking me out, and just play a round of a dumb iPhone game. (right now it’s Flow). Something to give me space to separate myself from whats going on that’s freaking me out, and realize that it’s almost certainly NOT going to result in death, dismemberment, or destitution. Then I can come back to what I was doing, a little calmer, and hopefully push through it. (The addition of meds & some quality time w/ a mental health professional certainly haven’t hurt, either, and thank you, Wil, for helping encourage me to seek those. :) )

  14. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to KNOW everything is going to work out. Focus on what you want and not what you are worried about. Then actually set a verbal request to the universe and know that it will bring it to you. Live as if it is a done deal. In the meantime… find some dandelions, yes I said dandelions and make a tea out of them. It is a natural remedy for depression. <3
    This is for anyone that is struggling with anxiety. Remember worry is like praying for what you DON'T want to happen. So keep focused on what you want in your life and watch it come to you…. within reason of course lol.
    *love and light*
    MonkeyBoxers 4 EVER!

  15. I found this medicine cap with a timer built into it. Each time you open the cap it resets the timer. That way the timer shows how long it has been since you last opened the bottle and presumably the last time you took your pill.

    They had them for sale on the counter at the pharmacy I went to once, but I’m sure they are everywhere.

  16. This is great, Wil. There’s still a long way to go to remove the stigma around mental illness, but it goes a long way toward that when celebrities come forward and admitting that they, too, suffer from a broken brain.

    Allie at Hyperbole and a Half has a couple of great posts about Depression. Part Two came nearly a year and a half after Part One because she was, as I call it, “At the bottom of the Abyss.” Those posts capture the experience of struggling with the darkness and trying to survive it.

    Adventures in Depression
    Depression Part Two

    I hope you feel better soon!

  17. You are so supportive of issues that aren’t mainstream, I’m very happy that you are. I was hit by a car while biking in 2009, and received an acquired brain injury. This is the story
    It’s not depression, but it is somewhat the same in that it exists, is dangerous to both get, and have.
    I initiated an awareness walk, that I’ve called Conquer Acquired Brain Injury, or CABI for short. It took place on June 15, was attended by over 200 people that registered, another 24 people did an information-walk took place in Gananoque (Ontario, Canada), and another in Belleville (Ontario, Canada). There were t-shirts made for the walk, and were given to all registrants. The registrants were asked for a $30 charge, and with all of the extras like raffles, there was a total of $9,000 raised for an organization that is raising the necessary funds for an updated live-in residence for 5 individuals that aren’t able to live on their own safely.

  18. It’s strange when you first get one. I have a steroid that I take with my chemo that, when it wears off, gives me some pretty heavy anxiety attacks. I can count on them for two days, but I have never been able to mentally prepare for them. With some medication, it lessens the effects and helps me fight the “brain weasels.” As bad as they get though, I feel for those of you who get blind sided by them, living in anticipation that they could hit at anytime. You all have some damn raw courage! I am glad you have help, Wil. You have made a lot of people very happy and it is nice to see that there is an organization that can help when you need it.

  19. Depression and anxiety suck a bag of dicks. Take care of yourself in whatever way works for you and don’t waste any guilt on it. It’s medical maintenance, yo.

  20. Wil, thank you so much for this post. When I met you at PlanetComicon in KC this year, I had taken my meds for my anxiety. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life. Unfortunately, there were those in my life who essentially said, “suck it up- you’ll grow out of it.” It took a good friend to convince me that what I had always felt was not normal and that I needed help. I wish my story was smooth sailing since then, but alas it is not. Dealing with depression is a daily fight, if you stop your meds bevause you feel better, you will feel worse. With my therapist, i have scaled back to an as needed anxeity pill and a sleeping pill(to make my brain shut up so i can sleep). I wish you a peaceful night’s rest tonight and hope you remember that you’re not alone either.

  21. Thank you so much Wil for sharing your struggle. FINALLY! Someone out there understands!

    I have those episodes too. In fact I am having it today, right now, as I type this.

    I have had anxiety since I was little and have been always told to just stop it or I’m just making myself sick. Why would I do that purposely? I was officially diagnosed about 2 years ago.

    Your blog is just the encouragement I needed today. Thanks again for helping to take away the stigma of mental illness.

    BTW I have been watching Tabletop and I bought Ticket to Ride Europe. I played with my friend who is now addicted to it. Every time we get together we play Europe and USA. We both bought different versions of the game to as he put it, ” share custody.” haha! I loved the video you posted of Anne “Wheatoning” the board. Classic.

    We have yet to play Castle Panic.



  22. First off, thank you for having an open discussion about something that so many people experience — and yet, are reluctant to talk about. Furthermore, thank you for not succumbing to your depression; you continue to shine as an example of someone people should want to emulate. I personally battle with depression myself, specifically dysthymia — briefly defined as a constant undercurrent of mild depression. The symptoms can stray into major depression if left untreated. I tried medication in the past with some success, but ultimately, I felt the side-effects of the medication were not worth it. I will say this: If you are hurting, you are not alone. Do something for yourself and get the help you want and need.

    I would like to credit you, sir, for helping me regain the ability to feel joy in my life. I’ve made it clear to my loved ones that my depression operates free of the wonderful things and people in my life; that I can have things going right and still feel depressed. That I can have loving friends and still feel lonely.

    Your show, Tabletop, brought forth a fundamental shift in how I feel about myself, and the people in my life. My life got turned upside-down after divorce of my stepfather and mother after 16 years, and I tried to reconcile that they needed to do what was best for them, but ultimately, it left me without a compass for a while. My mother and I have been very tight my whole life; as we clung to one another for emotional support (with her in FLA and myself in AZ, taking trips to see her) we were able to bond over Cards Against Humanity. The outrageous laughter and red faces of the various participants were a salve for our hurting hearts.

    I recently turned 27 and as a gift, my mom sent me CAH with both expansions and a note: try not to take life too seriously. My emotions dipped for a while before we had planned a belated gathering in AZ — CAH, food and Rum Runners. The party was a smashing success and we had friends (new and old) by the end of the night who swore they were going to buy the game the first chance they got. Your show got my girlfriend and I into table top gaming, which has lead us to schedule regular gatherings with a group of friends for food and fun. This, in turn, has reminded me of the joy there is to be found in life; that joy is never diminished by being shared. That depression lies. That I am worth more than I realize or may want believe at times.

    Your show and the games therein represent a wellspring of happiness I can tap into when my world is wonky and blue. I know you struggle too, Wil. I only hope that what I’ve said here can convey the depth of my gratitude and that it too can boost you up.

    I am better for the work you do. Thank you.

  23. I started to get treated for anxiety when I was 21. The first three years were rough, but eventually i got better thanks to medication and therapy. In December 2011 I had a serious car accident and a couple of months later I began to feel this horrible fear of death. I’m getting help but I still feel that anxiety is waiting to make its move. It’s pretty fucking awful.

  24. I’ve been going through a bad bout of anxiety lately. It’s been particularly bad the past couple of days. Luckily, I have a therapy appointment this evening, and then I’ll get a refill on my Xanax.

    Anyway, I read this at work and started tearing up. It’s so easy to feel all alone when in the throes of anxiety and depression. It’s so important to be reminded that none of us are alone.

    Thank you SO MUCH, Wil!

  25. Thank you. For as long as I can remember, I have had similar panicky episodes at night, preventing me from sleeping, and it took me an embarrassing long time to realize that this wasn’t “normal” and that it was actually anxiety. Somehow, knowing WHAT it was helped, because it gave it a name, a set of symptoms, and it made it easier for me to be objective. What really, truly helped though, was talking about it…and finding out how many of the people around me who I loved and respected and looked up to, who, in my opinion, had their shit SERIOUSLY together, had the same thing.

    Reaching out and speaking out helps others, but helps us even more.

  26. probably the weird weather doesnt help. had terrible nightmares over the last couple of days too. ps: testing twitter login, seems to work fine, good job

  27. I once forgot my meds at home, on my first visit to LA. Like a dumbass I didn’t call my doc to get an emergency supply, I tried to ride it through. In a pinch, migraine meds work on serotonin, but not for long periods.

    Had my very first fullblown panic attack at LAX, waiting to fly home. Luckily I was able to post a cry for help and my cell number to LiveJournal and had a friend talk to me about anything and everything to help me though it. These days I always triple check that I have my meds and fly in and out of Burbank!

  28. Hey Wil, I’ve been following you forever and I really want to thank you for speaking up about your depression. My youngest child, who is about to turn 11 years old, has been struggling with depression and anxiety since last fall. The onset of puberty has given this kid who is bright and charming and gifted a hell of a lot to deal with and it is a *struggle* every day. It scares me deeply to think of her fighting this forever. The sight of people such as yourself succeeding and happy and not letting the stupid parts of your brain win gives both of us hope. She laughed her guts out at your knock-knock joke. Thank you.

  29. Wil, thank you, for posting this. Sometimes even a person who is doing relatively well with his or her anxiety and depression needs this reminder. Today I am that person, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing it. I hope your personal demons take themselves away quickly, and you are left to be your bubbly and effervescent self.

    On a completely unrelated (and hopefully relatively humorous) note, You Are Not Alone… Wil… Is there something you’re not telling us? Or, should I call you… PROFESSOR YANA?! Are you the Master? Go on, admit it. You know you want to.

  30. this was really nice to read, I’ve been struggling since I was 16, I’m now 33 with a wife and kid, I’m unable to work, my wife and daughter should be my reason to live yet my mind can’t reason that way, I just constantly have suicidal thoughts and worse than suicidal thoughts the anxiety gives me irrational thoughts, Every other week I’m off to the therapist, been in the hospital several times, scarred up, waking up to a handful of pills and going to bed to a handful of pills. I always feel like no one could possibly understand what its like though I know that’s not the case, your post was encouraging, for the same reason someone else mentioned in a reply, someone whose a celebrity talking out about it and sharing his struggle, it adds validity to the disease. When I was hospitalized at 16 they barely took it seriously, when I was back in the hospital the last time at 29, the whole reaction from doctors and nurses had completely changed, it’s being taken more seriously now, and I’m sure its in good part to more recognized people coming forth, so thank you.

  31. This is also good information for those of us married to somebody who has anxiety. My wife has been dealing with anxiety for years and is on medication for it. Occasionally, usually on the weekends, she might feel a little “off” during the day. But then she remembers that she might have taken her meds a little later than normal and so she/we know that’s the issue. After many years, we’re used to it and just “roll with it”. On her behalf, thank you Wil for speaking out about your struggles and and successes with anxiety.

  32. This really got to me. I truly feel alone. I see a doctor and was recently admitted to a hospital and nothing is working fast enough it seems. I’m so unhappy and don’t have friends to help me. I know in the sense that literally there are other people battling mental illness I’m not alone, but in my direct life… I feel like I am. I wish the world was working harder to solve these mysteries… like they are with cancer and other things. My whole life has been a battle. No surprise I cried when I read this.

  33. thank you Wil. just what I needed after a couple of very bad days, my major depression and GAD really tried hard to get me down. It was so bad that I had to take a benzo because I felt like I was about to implode *hmpf*

    It’s just sad that we don’t have something like NAMI over here in Germany. At least not that I know of :(
    But therapy is not that expensive over here – here you “just” get the trouble of finding a therapist who isn’t fully overbooked.

    Blabla, I really appreciate and admire you for your honesty!
    Lot’s of love from Germany,

  34. Thank you for continuing to talk openly about depression and anxiety. It makes it a little easier to know that I’m not alone, that other people are fighting similar battles. And the reminder that it will get better–makes it easier to knuckle down and keep on fighting.

  35. Wil, thank you so much for posting this. There is way too much stigma around mental illness. Being willing to talk about it openly takes a tremendous amount of courage. As a long time sufferer of OCD I can relate to your post in a very personal way.

    I’ve been looking for a good organization to get involved with. Thanks for pointing the way towards NAMI.


  36. Well isn’t that some appropriate and fortuitous timing. Only yesterday I had a conversation with my therapist about the fact that I may have depression in addition to anxiety. I’ve never thought I was a depressed person but it makes a sad sort of sense.

    Like you I’m really resistant to the idea of going about treating this with medication, even in a low dose. I said that it doesn’t really appeal to my sense of wanting to be in control. She told me that’s the point, that I need to let go and crumble a little bit in order to rebuild me.

    I’m only just starting to actually see outside myself and the effect that my anxiety and possible depression have on the people around me that love me and can’t understand why I’m just not happier with the things I have.

    I guess it can’t hurt to talk about the possibility of considering any type of medication *smirk* once I get past the panic that is.

    Thanks to you and Jenny for your openness about the trials and tribulations life puts you through too. It means a lot to really know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. xo

  37. Hello, Mr. Wheaton.
    You do not know me. And I, although I follow you on multiple social media outlets, realize that I don’t really know you. I also realize that, given your status, the probability of you reading this rapidly approach zero. So why am I writing you?
    That is a good question…
    Sometimes I feel compelled to provide a counterpoint to certain opinions, or at least another perspective. I guess this is one of those cases.
    I applaud your candor, I really do. I know it’s difficult to reveal your… struggles? …tribulations? …whatever you want to call it, and to reach out to others to try and help.
    And I do know you’re trying to help.
    But you’ve got to know, sometimes, just sometimes, you ARE alone. Even if, like me, you have access to medication (a multitude of varieties and combinations, all of which made things worse), or heath care professionals (psychiatrists and psychologists full of unhelpful recommendations, inane chatter and pill-pushing tendencies), or even family (geographically close but not so easy to talk to).
    Sometimes all you’ve got is yourself, even if you’ve reached out. Sometimes things don’t get better. Sometimes they get worse, and worse and worse, for years on end. And sometimes the only consolation is the idea that dogs your thoughts day in and day out, the one that you keep wondering why you’re putting it off (other than the universal stigma attached to it).
    Anyway, I didn’t mean to dump this on you – I know everyone has their own problems, some people have things worse that I do, etc., etc. I don’t expect a response, and I’m not courting sympathy. I just wanted to provide an alternative view. Take care.
    PS: For various reasons I hadn’t wanted to post this publically, but you seem to have not options for private communications, which I can understand, I guess. But still…

  38. Never thought Wil Wheaton would save my life.

    It was already a hard day. I don’t do well with downtime, and of course my place of employment is always closed the first week of July, right when my depression tends to be at its worst. It had been a year since my girlfriend ran off to another state with another man – what should have been the end of a relationship so twisted that it wouldn’t end for another seven months. It had been a year since I spent a week, entirely alone in my apartment, no friends in town, and flat broke having spent every dime trying to keep her. It had been a year since I felt like there wasn’t a way out of the darkness anymore, and a year since I faltered and took the only way out I could see – when you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

    It didn’t work. Lot of pain. But it didn’t work.

    It’s been a year since that. It’s been 11 months since my boss pulled me into the office, ready to fire me over something I don’t even remember doing. I realized I needed help. I made some phone calls, found a therapist that worked for me. But things got busy, and I didn’t keep my appointments as much as I should have.

    I took the advice though. Cut off people that were negative – even though she showed up banging on my door, left me voicemails, and would “run into” co-workers. Started exercising. Eating better. Cut down on the self-medication. For the past couple months, things had been pretty good. People noticed I was happier.

    But then this July came. And like always, it brought with it the black dog of depression. The scars stood out more in the mirror the last couple days. The loneliness settled in, worse this time, since my best friend is out of the country and my other go-to’s are slammed with their own problems. Facebook filled with friends, married, with families, happy, on vacations. The email I got from her telling me she’s thinking about me opened a gateway to a pattern of abuse and pain; but a familiar pattern, one where I knew what to expect.

    Then I saw Wil’s post, telling me I’m not alone. I know he doesn’t know me. Chances are he won’t see this. Knowing that I’m not the only one who is dealing with this particular problem at this particular time isn’t a fix, but it’s a start. I’m calling my therapist.

    Thanks, Wil.

    1. Oh, I saw this, and I applaud you bravery for sharing it. Go see your therapist and let them help you feel better.

      Don’t give up. Don’t let Depression lie to you, because Depression is a jerk.

  39. I don’t personally suffer from depression or anxiety, but are friends with people who do. I think it is important to point out that when a friend is suffering and isn’t behaving as their usual self, it’s vital not to take it personally. Also, ASK them what you can do to help! For one friend, it is most comforting for her to know that her friends will be there for her when she comes out of her spell!

  40. Thank you for this. Really. I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder 11 years ago. When I finally talked to a doctor about my issues and he diagnosed me, we discussed the physical symptoms that I had been having… since I was in middle school. My parents didn’t understand. My mom thought I was being overdramatic. That I was just making a big deal out of nothing and that with simple will power I would be fine. Her favorite saying was, “You’re young, you’ll get over it.” Even now, 11 years later, she still can’t really wrap her mind around it. Dad is slightly better with it…I mostly attribute that to his being former military and having known friends with PTSD.

    I have no specific triggers for my attacks, and I’ve learned to read my mind and body and recognize the symptoms that lead up to an attack. I know now how to step back and remove myself from whatever situation is making me edgy. I’ve also been lucky to have friends who have dealt or are dealing with a mental disorder and who understand and know me well enough to smack me into normalcy when my symptoms crank up or I start getting really irritable.

    All of this was a long-winded way of saying I really appreciate you stepping up and telling your story. Mental illness is still a giant stigma in this country. You see it in every tv show and movie that presents their killer as bipolar or severly depressed. As if being depressed means you want to harm everyone. More people need to stand up and say “I have anxiety/depression/bipolar and I’m not crazy. I’m living my life. I’m surviving. I’m just me.”

  41. I’m glad you’re putting this out there. It’s up along side Mike and Jerry (Penny Arcade) opening up about their respective “issues”. It strikes me as remarkable in this day and age that people aren’t as informed as they could be. With the internet and all, you’d expect a lot of people would be able to find answers or at least enough info to mobilize them as needed.

    My wife is a student affairs officer at a large university and is also working on becoming a licensed therapist (MFT). Her students fear her (she’s Russian and she’s strict) but also come to her often to talk. Usually it’s related to school work but sometimes they just need someone to talk to. She’s referred a fair share of students to psychological services on campus because of obvious issues like anxiety or worse that counseling and support could often help with. More often than not, there’s a lack of info (even I didn’t realize there were psychological services on campus…just the usual health center) and there’s the stigma surrounding mental illness.

    I also think there’s a big problem with psychology in this country. Big pharma’s drugs solve problems for some but are also tossed at patients as a band-aid or crutch. That stupid DSM that’s the basis for health coverage and diagnoses (you know, the same one that until the 70’s diagnosed homosexuality as a mental illness) also becomes an easy way to misdiagnose patients.

    I personally have my downtimes and, dare I say it in a public forum–where my name is anonymized!–I have my fair share of times when I cry and have a heavy heart. Times when I just really don’t want to get out of bed. I have my fair share of worries but I’ve also managed (and maybe it’s just me) to figure them out and overcome them. I used to be deathly afraid of flying (a combination of my curse of analyzing every possible worst case scenario in a situation and well, a healthy regard for physics). I eventually figured it out for myself and got over it. I still get a bit nervous during take offs and landings but it’s nothing near where I was before where I’d start to panic at every unusual sound.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re feeling down or anxious, by all means, find someone who can work with you and help you. But, just like you can (and should) shop around for a doctor or mechanic or whatever, you should also feel 100% free to try a couple of different professionals before you settle on one. I think the best advice I can think of is to find someone who you actually feel comfortable with. I can vouch for the fact that there are a ton of psychologists and therapists out there with varying levels of skill and specialty. I can also vouch for the fact that some you’ll connect with and some you won’t.

    And as a side note, I remember reading that in general people who commit suicide are at a point where they’re often very depressed but not as utterly depressed as one can get. So, just because someone is sad but functional doesn’t mean they aren’t likely to commit suicide. More than anything, if the person in question is a family member or friend, you can start by listening. I tend to be a problem solver so this took me some learning before I realized I just needed to shut up and listen.

    Good luck all and as Wil said, you’re not alone.

  42. Thank you.

    I’m still in the process of weaning off my medication (my own choice and I do feel better without it) and going through a rough spot today. I needed to hear this.

    I think a lot of people do.

    Thank you for having the courage to say and share what the rest of us are too scared to say and share.

  43. Thank you for reminding us that when days like this happen, they do eventually get better.
    Not sure if this would help you, or maybe someone reading this, for what it’s worth I have found taking a vitamin B when my anxiety bumps up is helpful. It also helps along with valerian root when I’m having a hard time getting my brain to shut the hell up so I can sleep.

  44. It’s especially helpful to have a celebrity share these kinds of experiences. People with more severe mental disorders are treated as malformed sub-humans that are dangerous to everyone around them. Even those who suffer from milder issues like anxiety, depression and bipolarism are treated as if they could be normal like everyone else if they would just toughen up or stop being overly-dramatic or focus on the positive.

    Most of us, logically or illogically, hold celebrities in high esteem. To hear that a person we revere suffers from the same disability we dismissed others for…it validates the existence of the problem.

  45. Thank you for posting this, Wil. Although I wasn’t diagnosed with Depression until I was 22 after a big, nasty breakdown that sent me to the hospital, I have had suicidal ideations since I was 14, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve tried to kill myself. By some miracle (or is it cowardice?) I’m 29 now.

    Let’s just say it is never too far out of my mind, at least, not for very long. The idea of getting help is good, but because of money, it isn’t something I can do…and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Oh well.

    Anyway, thanks. It’s kind of nice to see that there are some people in the world who get it.

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