“Children should be seen and not heard.”
That was one of the prevailing parenting tips of past generations; we learned, young, not to share our thoughts, our feelings, our problems. If we struggled with issues originating in our heads—depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders—many of us internalized them to the breaking point, finally seeking relief as adults in the offices of our therapists. When we finally understood, we often realized that the effort of hiding had caused us to miss half of our lives.
It was yet another successful means of perpetuating the stigma of mental illness.
Through the years I’ve learned that one way to banish that stigma is to share our stories. To put it in perspective, I remember being a parent of young children, writing about issues I was having with one child or another, and receiving letters and emails from other parents saying, “Oh my God! Yes! I didn’t know anyone else’s child did that!” I was validated by the reassurance that other parents had similar struggles.