Tragedy + Time = Comedy

May 29th, 2019

Bekah has taken the challenges of mental health in her life and turned them into comedy and poetry to help break the stigma surrounding mental illness.

NAME — Bekah Stogner

AGE — 22

OCCUPATION — Lipscomb University Grad, Server at Tupelo Honey

HOMETOWN — Brentwood, TN

FUN FACT — Bekah wrote a poetry book that was published in April 2019

How would you define yourself?

“Writer. Creative. Usually one of the funny friends. Unique, even though that’s cliché. Someone with lots of layers.”

What is your experience with mental illness?

“My anxiety started when I was really young, but I didn’t know that’s what it was until 8th grade. I didn’t take any medication for it until high school when I started having panic attacks. It went away a bit during college. Senior year, though, depression hit me hard and I started taking antidepressants. Life post-grad has been really difficult.”

Have you ever gone to counseling? If so, what was your experience like and what would you tell others about counseling?

“Yes, I did family counseling when I was young, which wasn’t too bad. Since starting on antidepressants, counseling has been good for the most part. Some counselors weren’t a great fit for me. One was good but had to peace-out and have a hysterectomy. I saw a psychiatrist, which was horrible — and I know others who have also had bad experiences with psychiatrists. She tried to paint my situation as worse than it actually was, talked more than me during sessions, and even said I was only a step away from hospitalization, which wasn’t true. The girl I’m with now is super nice, charismatic, and chill. We’ve talked about social identity disorder. She’s very conversational, easy to talk to, and has really been working out for me.

If you’re thinking about trying counseling, I say go for it. It’s amazing to have someone to talk to. No issue is ‘too small,’ even if you only go once. It takes time to find the right fit, so don’t be discouraged. It’s sort of like making friends: you’re not going to be a perfect fit with everyone you meet.”

Why are you passionate about mental health awareness?

“Mental health is important to talk about instead of hiding and suppressing it. A lot of my own coping is through comedy, and sometimes people are put off by that. But I try to get around the stigma and laugh about it from time to time. My formula is tragedy + time = comedy.”

What do you want to change about mental health and awareness of it?

“Talking about mental health needs to be easier and more second nature. It’s okay to just listen and not necessarily say anything in return. People are too often afraid and feel like they need to fix their friends. But you can simply listen, send them a meme, and still be super helpful. Sometimes people just need to vent. You don’t always need to give them an answer. Give the best of what you can. If you can’t do something, be open about that. That’s scary and hard to say, but it’s helpful and what you need to do sometimes.”

Even though you struggle with mental illness, that doesn't define you. What would you want others to know about yourself?

“A lot of times my comedy is a mask to cover up insecurities. If I’m not funny, I don’t feel useful and think that people won’t want to be around me. If I joke about depression, it’s okay to laugh about it with me. But understand that it’s still a real thing for me.”

What do you want others to know about mental illness?

“Mental illness is serious, but it’s also not. So much of the stigma surrounds hospitalization: that it’s one wrong move and someone will kill themselves. But that’s not true. It’s not a big deal in that sense. In college, I would sometimes miss a class as my way of coping and dealing with my depression. But my professor knew about my circumstance and struggles. Be there for the people in your life. You don’t need to be a therapist to help. Just be you, and that’ll help more than most people would ever think.”

My name is Bekah, and I am not defined by my struggle with mental health.

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