We often hear that we should talk more openly about mental health.
But few people do it.
In Saturday's column I give kudos to Dwight Howard (yes, I know you don't hear that much from Orlando) for mentioning in a recent LA Times interview that he saw a psychiatrist last season.
It's pretty standard stuff for athletes. But even so, Dwight got that tidbit thrown back in his face with Internet speculation that he was "losing his mind" or going "crazy."
And we wonder why it's so hard for people to talk about.
Robert Carrion can relate.
Robert is 38 and lives in Orlando. He works as a carpenter. And until recently his life was upside down.
He suffered from severe depression and anxiety. His relationships with his friends and family were strained. Things were so bad it was hard for him to hold down a job. And last year he tried to take his own life.
Then, finally, after years of wanting help but not knowing where to look he found the support he needed at the Outlook Clinic, a partnership between the Mental Health Association of Central Florida, Florida Hospital and Orange County government.
Now after months of counseling and finding the right medication, Robert feels like a new man.
He's got a good job and is in what he describes as the "healthiest relationship of my life." He even has a newborn daughter.
"Never have I accomplished or even imagined I could get to the place I am now," he said.
He credits his therapists with helping him get past the anxiety and negativity that used to dominate his life.
He says the media sends a lot of mixed messages about getting treatment for mental health.
"It's cool when Tony Soprano does it, but Dwight Howard just needs to get everything off his chest and everybody says, 'What's wrong with him?'" Carrion said.
He says treatment is worth talking about if it makes a difference for someone else.
"If I can just give hope to one other person, there's no shame in me telling people what I've gone through," he said.
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