It’s odd to me that family will often talk about physical health history like heart disease, cancer, hypertension, gout, and the like. But mental health? It’s still under the rug. Why?
When I was first diagnosed with migraine associated vertigo, the doctor I was seeing asked about migraine history in my family. At the time, my answer was “nope, not a one!” But later, I found out that wasn’t true. For some reason, no one had talked about migraines in our family. We came to realize that my grandfather probably suffered, though at the time they called it “hay fever”. Then I found out after chatting with a cousin that she, too, suffered, and so did her father (my uncle). And in recent years, we’ve come to understand that my mother suffers from them, though her trigger is certain foods.
So has been the same with depression and anxiety and panic. I was speaking to my aunt and when I was telling her my experience with the panic attacks, she immediate began telling me her experiences with them. Hers were the result of medication, but if I hadn’t talked about mine, she would never have spoken about hers. Why? Why do we not talk to our families? Who else would understand better than the people who love us? We can say how high our cholesterol is, or the blood pressure medication we are on, but we can’t talk about our mental health issues, or the pills we might have to take to help us cope?
In a similar vein, I have a friend I’ve known for over 30 years–since childhood–and I told her about some of what I’d been experiencing, and she responded in kind. We’ve been friends forever and talked about so much–illegal drug use, family/parental issues, sibling issues–but never about our depression or other mental health issues. I know her almost as well as I know myself, but not when it came to our mental health. Why not? What were we hiding from each other? We love each other no matter what, but we never brought the subject up.
If someone loves you, they love all of you. Talk to the people who love you…I suspect you will be surprised at how they respond. Some may understand better than you think, and others who don’t will likely be confused (or ignorant) but will want to support you the best they know how.