In a world where about 450 million people cope with mental health issues, it’s important that we start meaningful, stigma-fighting conversations about this topic. Luckily, with someone like Kristen Bell in the public eye, it seems like that won’t be a problem.
“When I was 18, my mom sat me down and said, ‘If there ever comes a time where you feel like a dark cloud is following you, you can get help. You can talk to me, talk to a therapist, talk to doctor. I want you to know that there are options,‘” Kristen reveals. “I’m so thankful for her openness on this predominantly silent subject because later, when I was in college, that time did come.“
During her college years, Kristen explains that her bubbly personality was overshadowed by an intensely negative attitude. Logically, there was no reason for her to feel this way – yet there was a hidden force that plagued her mind.
“Luckily, thanks to my mom, I knew that help was out there—and to seek it without shame,” writes Bell.
Kristen asserts that keeping such mental health issues a secret can make them worse. That’s why, after 15 years of remaining silent, Bell feels that it’s time to open up about her experiences with anxiety and depression.
“Here’s the thing: For me, depression is not sadness,” asserts Kristen. “It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure.”
After she sought the help she needed, Kristen learned that her negative thoughts were wrong. Most importantly, she realized that she can offer the world so much more as she aims to help others who may be in a similar situation. Overall, she wants to spread the message that we all matter.
Kristen also made a great point when she stated, “There is such an extreme stigma about mental health issues, and I can’t make heads or tails of why it exists. Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades or achievements. Anyone can be affected, despite their level of success or their place on the food chain.” She adds that, though it may not seem that way, it’s likely we all know someone coping with mental illness – especially based on statistics that say about 20% of American adults have dealt with mental health problems.
Overall, Bell feels that taking care of your mental health should be just as normal as taking care of your body at the doctor’s or your teeth at the dentist’s. With this in mind, there should be no judgement whatsoever when one decides to take care of their mental health.
“It’s a knee-jerk reaction to judge people when they’re vulnerable. But there’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. You’re just having a harder time living in your brain than other people. And I don’t want you to feel alone,” writes Kristen. “You know what happens when I visit my doctor regarding my mental health? He listens. He doesn’t downplay my feelings or immediately hand me a pill or tell me what to do. He talks to me about my options. Because when it comes to your brain, there are a lot of different ways to help yourself.”
Kristen concludes that being a human is hard, which is why it’s important for us all to stick together. We must communicate with each other and ask for help when we need it. By working with one another in the face of such issues, it will only bring us closer to finding the solutions to the mental health issues many of us face.
If you are currently coping with mental health issues and are looking for support, we highly recommend you check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s list of resources. To find a mental health specialist near you, you can check out the “Find a Therapist” search on Psychology Today’s website. You can also reach out to the Lifeline hotline at 13 11 14 for immediate support.