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Picture this: you wake up one morning and everything hurts. You feel tired, unmotivated, and very concerned about what could possibly be wrong with you. Certain of the idea that you are gravely ill you make an appointment to see your trusted primary care physician. After a thorough exam the doctor sits you down and you brace yourself for the worst, but instead, this is what you hear, “one thing is certain, there is nothing physically wrong with you”. Wait a minute, What?? Your head starts spinning, how could this be? You struggle to refocus your attention back to what your doctor is saying, only to hear words like “depressed” and “psychosomatic” being thrown around. Psycho what? Are you trying to say I am crazy? All your defenses immediately go up  and in that moment your beloved, trusted, twenty-plus year primary care physician turns into your worst enemy. “I am not crazy” you shout, as your doctor struggles to reassure you he is not saying that, at all! it’s too late though, All the great advice he is giving you, the top-notch clinicians he is referring you to, fall on deaf ears. every other word out of his mouth is now interpreted thru a skewed lens. The stigma of mental illness along with the confusion caused by all these new ideas being regurgitated at you all at once is creating a perfect storm of emotion; causing sixty percent of those affected to never seek help at all! That’s right, despite all the effective evidence-based treatment out there only forty percent of those diagnosed seek treatment and a staggering fifty percent of those who do reach out for the help they need don’t follow thru to reap the benefits from which they’ve sewn! Why does this happen? When will we see a day when we, as a society, accept the fact that mental illness is no different than physical illness? it is definitely real, we cannot control it, and the medical community does take it very seriously! when will those suffering from these well documented illnesses day in and day out get the treatment they need with their perfect storm of emotions checked at the door? What will it take to rid our society of this stigma? when posed with this question the main word that comes to mind is UNDERSTANDING. More education and public awareness is key to creating an environment conducive for understanding. 60 million Americans are said to personally suffer from some form of mental illness every year and should you be lucky enough to escape it, almost certainly someone you love suffers every day in silence. We all should strive for understanding, not only because it’s our civic duty, but because suffering  alone plagued by immeasurable shame and guilt should be absolutely unacceptable in the world we live in today. Let’s start a movement!  I hope my words have inspired you to make a difference wherever you can, no task is ever too small. you never know who’s blessing you may become! carpe diem…

-Written by S. E Rhodes