Jon Hamm wearing a hat.

Jon Hamm Discusses Depression and Going to Therapy in InStyle Interview

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Jon Hamm sees a therapist and doesn’t care who knows. Sitting down with InStyle, the actor, known best for his role in “Mad Men,” told the magazine how therapy has helped him through a number of mental health issues including depression, alcohol addiction and grief.

“Medical attention is medical attention whether it’s for your elbow or for your teeth or for your brain,” Hamm said. “And it’s important. We live in a world where to admit anything negative about yourself is seen as a weakness, when it’s actually a strength.”

This isn’t the first time Hamm has spoken openly about his experience getting treatment for mental illness. In 2015, Hamm went to rehab for alcohol addiction.

“[Rehab] has all these connotations, but it’s just an extended period of talking about yourself,” Hamm told Mr. Porter’s The Journal in 2016. “People go for all sorts of reasons, not all of which are chemically related. But there’s something to be said for pulling yourself out of the grind for a period of time and concentrating on recalibrating the system. And it works. It’s great.”

Hamm has since moved on from rehab but told InStyle he still attends therapy, sharing with the publication how therapy has helped him process the grief he experienced after losing both of his parents at a young age. “I’m certainly damaged—there’s no denying it,” he said. “I was talking to my therapist yesterday, and she was newly flabbergasted at something I told her. I think she’d just forgotten it. I was like, ‘We’ve already gone through this!’ But if you look at the history of my life, it’s not great.”

Hamm isn’t the only celebrity looking to defeat the stigma surrounding living with a mental illness. In April, BBC3’s #1in4 campaign featured a variety of public figures and stars holding up four fingers on social media as a way of raising awareness of the “one in four of us will experience some kind of mental health problem over the course of a year.” Of those experiencing issues, only 41 percent of adults living with a mental illness will receive the mental health services they need each year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports.

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“It’s not a weak move to say, ‘I need help,’” Hamm added. “In the long run it’s way better, because you have to fix it.”

Photo Credit: John Bollwit

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When Depression Made Me Feel Like I Was Just Existing

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I’ve lived with depression for a while now. I was first diagnosed around the age of 10, and since then many things have contributed to the feelings I have, but it wasn’t until recently that I hit a sort of breaking point.

Five years ago, I moved to a small town in southern Nevada and since then my life has slowly felt like it’s losing its meaning. Only very recently did my depression hit its lowest point and ironically it was when I was finally doing stuff that was good for my life.

It started with getting a job, my first one at that. When the year mark came up on that milestone, I found the courage to move out on my own. A month into doing that and I decided to start dating again.

The second date I went on, the guy was seemingly perfect. He was just what I wanted, only he wasn’t what I needed. After a literal month of my depression using my loneliness against me and causing me to ruin that, I hit the lowest of the lows.

Then came the attempted suicide. At this point, I felt done with everything. I felt like I was never gonna be good enough and that my mental illness made me impossible and unlovable. So I thought ending it would be the best option.

I spent a week in the hospital. That week was the scariest most educational week of my life. I learned I’m not the only one who goes through this on a day to day — that some people check themselves in just to get away.

When I left, I had a different perspective of my mental illness but it wasn’t enough to change it. A few days went by and things in my “normal life” seemed to get worse. I still had no desire to live, but I wasn’t suicidal. I just went through days, going through the motions. Some days I even missed work because I couldn’t stop crying long enough to get through the day without someone being suspicious.

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And then Mr. Not-so-perfect made me see something. He told me that while my life may suck, I’m still here for a reason. I have a purpose. While I may not know what that is yet, I still found it easier to make doable goals.

It’s that thought which helped me get through my latest episode. I was down and out, feeling like a burden and wanting it all to end, and then his words came to me. With the help of a very good friend, I felt better.

Yes, my life may not be perfect right now, but it won’t always be this way. I have something to live for. I’m here for a purpose. I may not know what that is yet but I just have to keep moving. I have to make small goals that make me feel like I’m accomplishing something. I just have to remember that I wasn’t created to simply exist. No one was.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via BruceStanfield

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How I'm More Than Just the 'Funny Guy' Despite Hiding Behind It

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I think I have always had some form of mental illness. Currently, I am diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

This is hard. Daily. Getting out of bed; making sure I don’t disappoint people; trying to “help” others in the effort to help me “feel” better about my existence. I know I am a good person, but feeling worthless.

I personally have hidden a lot of my mental wrestling matches in my life by trying to be funny. Humor puts smiles on the faces around you, but it doesn’t fix your thoughts. It has always been an easy band-aid. Sure, I believe everyone uses humor when they might feel uncomfortable, but this is deeper.

Most days, I try to simply function like a “normal” person.

When I was right out of high school and just getting a taste of “real” life, I found I was being labeled as just the funny guy. Most people assumed I didn’t take things too seriously. In my head, I thought I was the most insightful person around since I couldn’t stop overthinking things. I hated that label. “The funny guy.” It made me feel small. Insignificant.

To this day I feel I am still the funny guy and I will do my best to make life fun. Just know I am more than just fun. I am thoughtful, loving, hopeful, smart, stupid and I need your help so bad. I require expressed love, now more than ever.

Please go hug the “funny guy” in your life. I guarantee it is needed.

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Thinkstock photo via stevanovicigor

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The Truth About How My Depression and Anxiety Affect My Studies

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Dear Professor,

I have a confession to make. Actually, I have a few confessions to make.

I know I haven’t always been the perfect student. Often I’m late to class in the morning and, some days, I don’t show up at all. I hand in assignments a week after the due date. When these things happen, I tell you I overslept, am sick, or simply forgot about something. But that isn’t the truth. You may or may not know that I struggle with depression and anxiety, and that’s OK. What I haven’t been telling you is how much my mental illness affects my studies. It’s time for me to come clean. For everything I’m about to tell you, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for every time I was late to your class in the morning. I apologized to you time and time again for oversleeping, but that was never the case. I was late to your class because I struggled to get out of bed every morning. Whether I was five or twenty minutes late, I felt like I was letting you down. I was worried if I told you the truth you wouldn’t believe me.

I’m sorry for each time I told you I slept through class. I was never sleeping. I was lying awake, trying to convince myself there was a reason to get up that day. But I wasn’t there, and the world kept turning. There were even times where I would drive to class, but drive home if I knew I was going to be even two minutes late. I was afraid to walk in late, have my peers stare at me, and have you be disappointed in me. I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t want you to think I was making excuses.

I’m sorry for the times I wasn’t prepared for class or didn’t have my work done. For every time I handed in an assignment a week late or didn’t make progress on a project, I slept for 36 hours straight that weekend. When I told you I forgot my assignment at home even though I hadn’t started it, I went to bed at 5 p.m. because of how exhausted I was. I felt like if I told you the truth, you would think I was being lazy.

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For all of these instances and more, I’m sorry. Being a full-time student has been the hardest part of living with my mental illness. But there is one thing I want you to know: I’m doing my best. I don’t need you to understand exactly what I’m going through, but I do need you to understand that my struggles are valid. I can’t guarantee I will always be able to give you 100 percent. Sometimes 60 percent will be the best I can do that day. I wish I could give you more. I hope you know, though, that I am trying.

Sincerely,
Your Student

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How Your Kind Words Help With My Depression and Self-Criticism

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I am my own worst enemy.

I often joke that no one could ever hurt my feelings.

I tell them I’ve said worse things to myself than anyone else ever could… but I believed every word I told myself.

You compliment me. You tell me you are proud of me. You tell me you love me and I could never be a burden.

But, there’s a voice in my head and it screams at me. It tells me you are just trying to be nice. It tells me no one could ever really love me. It tells me I will never be good enough.

This voice is mine. While I grew up in a verbally and emotionally abusive environment, the abuse was never really directed at me. I’m not hearing other people’s voices putting me down. I do this to myself.

It’s a reflex. It’s immediate. My negative screaming and the all-consuming voice tell me why everyone is wrong about me.

But, there is a side of me in there that wants to believe otherwise. It’s the side of me I’ve beaten down throughout my life. It’s a quiet voice. A timid voice. But it believes. It knows you love me. It knows what I do to myself is wrong.

I want that voice to come back. I’m trying so hard to make that the loud voice I hear. On the outside, I may look fine. I look “normal.” On the inside, my mind is waging a war against itself. I’m tearing myself apart.

I hope you know how important your kind words are. They give me the strength and ammunition I need to keep fighting.

I may not respond the way I should. I may look like a lost cause. But, your belief in me helps drive me forward and your kind words have saved my life on more occasions than I’d like to admit.

Thank you for not giving up on me even after I had given up on myself.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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22 'Secrets' of People Who Take Antidepressants

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Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

When you’re first prescribed antidepressants, the doctor often rattles off a list of both positive and negative side effects. You take all this information in, hoping the positives will outweigh the negatives and your depression symptoms will subside. The tricky part is, you don’t know what, when or if one particular medicine will work. Adding to the confusion, few people talk about their experiences with antidepressants because of the stigma associated with medicine as a form of treatment for mental illness.

That is why we asked our mental health community to share some “secrets” — the parts of taking antidepressants they don’t often talk about. If you’re concerned about trying antidepressants, you’re definitely not alone, and you deserve to know the realities of others’ experiences. Take a look at the responses below, and don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with a medical professional you trust.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Despite knowing they help, I sometimes still have a hard time making myself take them. Also, if [I] miss a dose or two, I can tell — not necessarily in the emotional realm but the physical.” — Jackie R.

2. “I’m constantly itchy and have dry mouth. When I start my cycle, mixing all those hormones with all my medications is the scariest type of PMS I’ve ever had. If I don’t eat, my stomach feels like it’s digesting itself. I feel like I’m drowning in my head sometimes, like I can’t feel anything. Sometimes I wish I could just stop taking them, but I know if I do, my mental state will rapidly spiral downward. I guess we endure because I imagine nothing can be worse than my mind, so why not be a lab rat for a while? It can’t be worse than how I feel already.” — Shelby S.

3. “Today, I’m an open book. Previously, there were a lot of taboos. Side effects like low libido, dry mouth, constipation, the feeling that I needed to take them to be accepted, picking them up in the pharmacy was horribly embarrassing, talking to my kids about needing them, and having to tell the nurses at my general practitioner when they ask, ‘Do you take any medications currently?’ Twenty years later, and too many SSRI changes to count, I’m now able to discuss it openly.” — Bill M.

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4. “Taking antidepressants can cause extreme constipation in some individuals, particularly those who already have issues with their gastrointestinal system. No one told me that when I didn’t go to the bathroom for 11 days that it was a problem due to the new antidepressant I was taking. I didn’t find out until I was in the emergency room. I don’t talk about this often with others because although I have no trouble discussing it, the majority of people don’t want to hear about that kind of thing.” — Leah O.

5. “One of the stranger early side effects of my medication [was] frequent urination. It happened to me, and it was insane. I woke up four or five times a night to go pee. It only lasted a couple of weeks though, like the other side effects. My medicine made me drowsy and made me clench my jaw and grind my teeth in my sleep. These side effects went away and it was totally worth the two weeks for how good I feel now.” — Olivia L.

6. “They don’t always work every day. Sometimes I get really tired of taking them. Juggling a handful of pills gets old fast.” — Jo M.

7. “I don’t talk about how uncomfortable it feels being more regulated, especially after living unregulated for so long. I’ve been on a good mix of medications for my disorder for over a year now, and despite the many years and struggles of finally finding the right mix, I don’t feel right. It’s difficult to explain but I would liken it almost to a dysphoria because of the way my brain is hardwired with my disorder and the interaction of the chemicals I’m introducing. The reaction is like pushing two magnets together that aren’t supposed to. I don’t even talk about this with others struggling because stigma is rife within the affected community. This is actually the first time I’ve spoken about it outside of therapy.” — Hollie H.

8. “Having to change medications is one of the most disrupting events I have to go through. Sometimes the meds I’m on don’t work like they used to so I have to switch to something else. The emotional roller coaster that ensues is horrible and it’s difficult to keep going with the transition. I often want to give up on the medication before it’s settled into my system” — Caron H.

9. “It is a difficult choice to decide to stay on them when they leave you numb but functioning, rather than semi-to-non functional with erratic emotions.” — Jenifer W.

10. “Even if I miss one dose it can completely throw me off and I’ll be a completely different person. I wish I didn’t have to take them. All I want is to be ‘normal,’ but my brain won’t let me unless I do counseling and take medicine. When I think about it, it sometimes makes me feel like a failure.” — Valerie R.

11. “The only thing I’ve noticed is the jitters but that could be due to the fact that I actually have energy again. Sitting all day is boring! It used to be my favorite pastime. But I talk about it all: the good, the bad. It needs to be talked about. Needing medication is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything it shows strength.” — Katie M.

12. “I don’t talk about taking them. It’s so difficult to share because of the stigmatism. I am tired of explaining why I need them, how I was not misdiagnosed, and how I have tried alternatives. Yes, I can function, work, and drive — don’t label me. People need to start believing not everything works the same for everyone.” — Erika D.

13. “They don’t let you get refills sometimes on time because they’re too booked or some other problem, even though it’s highly recommended that you don’t stop taking them suddenly because it’s harmful, and you suffer from withdrawals and more damage until they actually refill your medicine weeks later.” — Kayden M.

14. “I don’t talk about them at all. I’ve heard my family mention multiple times that I shouldn’t be taking medication and could fight this on my own if I had more positive thoughts/outlooks. I also don’t talk about how they make me feel manic and exhausted. When I do feel better, I don’t mention going off them, with my doctor’s approval of course, because I don’t want people to think that me not taking my medication will make me ‘crazy.'” — Kate C.

15. “[I experienced] drastic short-term memory loss… And uncontrollable limb tremors.” — Caley K.

16. “[It’s bad] when I miss a dose. I’m 99 percent compliant but for various reasons have run out… twice over the last year and within days I have an upset stomach, I don’t sleep well, my head is fuzzy, and I feel like I’m getting the flu.” — Randi D.

17. “I don’t usually cry, but the medicine I’m on makes me sensitive to everything. Especially if I miss a day. It’s horrible. And I can’t forget about constant coughing. Side effects are so random and out of nowhere for different people.” — Yessi S.

18. “I am more than thankful for my antidepressant. It makes me feel much better and I have more motivation every day. The changes in my emotions were dramatic. And most people don’t understand that part.” — Kayla B.

19. “It can make you feel ‘normal’ to the point where you stop taking them because you feel all better, so you take yourself off and then feel fine for months and then go back to being depressed.” — Olivia P.

20. “The nausea is awful and I sometimes get hot flashes, like I’m about to be sick. My medication is supposed to up my energy and mood, but it makes me very tense like all my nerves are on edge.” — Courtney S.

21. “The first two weeks while increasing the dosage made me extremely suicidal, but after that time period I felt like a new person.” — Brianna W.

22. “They’re not the magic cure that some people believe they are. You’ve still got to put the work in to feel better.” — Katie W.

What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Thinkstock image via Top Photo Corporation.

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