We often spend more time talking about the sensational things that captivate instead of the things we need to be talking about because they affect us all. Or at least someone we know. This is one of those stories about someone we may know.
I ran across this story about the death of Saiorse Kennedy Hill on CNN and it struck me. Not only because a prominent family chose to share the story of her depression, but because I thought it was brave and forthcoming – not to mention helpful to the millions of Americans (and countless others around the world) who suffer from some sort of mental illness. When someone famous can speak openly about it, we get to a point where we stop labeling mind issues as “illnesses,” and we can begin to drop the stigmas attached to it. And provide the support people need. That would be a good thing.
As of this writing, it is estimated that 16.1 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorder. Another 10.3 million will have a major depressive episode this year alone. Half of those people will experience both. That’s a pretty staggering statistic, even more so when you consider that many people don’t know they have it, or don’t report it for fear of being stigmatized or because they were misdiagnosed in the first place.
My heart goes out to the Kennedy family, yes because of the loss of a life that was just beginning to bloom, but because sometimes I wonder if we are doing enough to help in the first place. Saiorse Kennedy Hill was depressed in a time that she should have been celebrating her youth. Helping people manage things like this is my calling, my passion, and ultimately the vision that created this place and this practice. But we can’t do it alone. We need to remove the blame and the bias that often makes people afraid to come out of the shadows – when there shouldn’t be a shadow in the first place. Depression is a part of all of our lives, and it is about time we understand that it is just a different kind of normal.