mental health awareness month
This past year, the depression I had suffered twenty years ago returned with a vengeance. I made plans to end my life. Friends begged me to seek help. And I did – eventually. But one of the primary reasons I delayed getting help was because I am a pastor. I agonized over the contradiction of my life. As a pastor, I was expected to have all the answers. As a person with untreated depression, I felt like I had nothing but questions. And I worried that acknowledging I have a mental illness would irreparably damage my relationship with the church
On Tuesday, Angelina Jolie became the face of preventative mastectomy. In a beautifully worded New York Times op-ed, the actress said she opted for a double mastectomy after learning she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer, adding, “On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
In the hours following the publication of Jolie’s story, others came forward with their own stories, and the media coverage since has been non-stop. However, when a similarly famous actress, Catherine Zeta Jones, came forward with her diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, it made only a news ripple compared to the crashing wave of coverage Jolie’s disclosure has received. Don’t get me wrong — Jolie’s announcement is hugely significant and part of a much-needed conversation. But mental illness should be afforded the same level of discourse. Perhaps talking about mental illness isn’t as fascinating as talking about an actress’s decision about her breasts, but talk about it we must — and unfortunately not even a courageous disclosure made by a beautiful and famous actress like Catherine Zeta Jones is enough to get that conversation started.