Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about

Yesterday Wentworth Miller, who stars in programmes like Prison Break, opened up about his depression and body issues after finding this awful meme above, that was posted on the Facebook group The LAD Bible.

He then posted this on Facebook in response:
"Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time. 

This one, however, stands out from the rest.

In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons. 

First and foremost, I was suicidal.

This is a subject I've since written about, spoken about, shared about.

But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few.

Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time.

I've struggled with depression since childhood. It's a battle that's cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.

In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.

And I put on weight. Big f--king deal.

One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. "Hunk To Chunk." "Fit To Flab." Etc.

My mother has one of those "friends" who's always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.

In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.

Long story short, I survived.

So do those pictures.

I'm glad.

Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.

Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.

Anyway. Still. Despite.

The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.

Of myself and others.

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They're waiting to hear from you. Much love. - W.M."

You know what this made me realise? Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. Mental illness is not obvious in most cases - someone could be suffering with something in silence, and saying something horrible to them, possibly without thinking, could make it even worse.

I think Wentworth Miller is really brave to open up about his depression and suicidal thoughts in this way - he was almost forced to do so because of the meme that was voted on Facebook. I'm hoping that by using his platform to promote mental health he will help so many other people, as they will know they are not the only ones suffering. Sometimes just knowing others are in the same boat can really help.

This also shows that mental health is not just psychological - it has physical aspects to it, as well. I personally lose weight when I am suffering severely with my depression, and also get aches and pains in my muscles, which make it difficult to get out of bed.

I'm just hoping that this post will make people think before they post anything nasty on the internet.
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. If you can't help them at least don't hurt them.
                 - Dalai Lama

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