Lena Dunham Gets Honest About Mental Health On Instagram

We've come a long way toward accepting mental illness in our society, but for some reason, we're still squeamish when it comes to talking about medication — a totally normal, and for many people necessary, part of managing our mental health. So we were reassured to see Lena Dunham challenge that cultural stigma — especially as it relates to women — by opening up in two recent Instagram posts about taking meds. And her honesty inspired several of our R29 staffers to get real about their own experiences with meds and mental health. Here's how a few members of our team reacted to the posts:

Can I live?

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

"I have dealt with extreme anxiety and panic attacks for over 10 years. For about half of that, I was not medicated, and struggled to do everyday things (sit in class, drive in a car, take the subway, go out to lunch, and more). It wasn't until I ended up in the hospital after having the worst panic attack of my life that I finally succumbed to taking medication — and it truly changed my life. The stereotype surrounding people on meds for mental disorders doesn't make sense, because actually, I felt crazier without them, not understanding why I couldn't partake in simple activities without feeling like I was going to die. So many people called out Lena for 'encouraging' drug use, but I completely understand where she's coming from: Why is being on medication for anxiety or depression different than being on a regimen for any terminal illness?" — Erin Cunningham "I think Lena Dunham is a mental health heroine. She's an inspiration and both so loved and so divisive because she shines light on topics that have been shrouded in shame and fear in the past. The stigmas around mental health keep people from being honest with themselves and with the world — and from getting the support they need. I love that she's helping others to find a kindred soul and to heal by revealing so much about herself. #TEAMLENA" — Piera Gelardi "I came across Lena's post last night while scrolling through my Instagram feed and I was pleasantly surprised... I was struggling with anxiety before I went to college and I truly don't think that I would have been able get on the plane to go to school had I not been lucky enough to have access to medication. I went off the medication after a few years, but I really feel like I was only able to grow into myself in those first few years of college with the support of my medication. People need to know that it's okay to seek help, that it really CAN get better, and that many people who appear to have it all together are on medication." — Cara Siskind
"I haven't taken psychiatric medications myself, but I have been in therapy at times, and it was so helpful — but also so hard to reach for, because part of me felt ashamed for being weak and needing someone else's help to deal with normal life problems. Which is so wrong! In some ways, I think the stigma is even stronger when it comes to medications. Sharing our stories and normalizing science-backed, effective treatments for both physical and mental illnesses is a crucial step toward making it easier for people who need help to seek it out." — Anna Maltby "I absolutely love it. I think she's a badass for being real about something so many people experience privately but are ashamed to talk about out loud. I wish more people were willing to help break down the stigma, because seeing a post like that is very reaffirming for anyone who feels unsure or embarrassed about their choice to take antidepressants and psychiatric meds. Go Lena!" — Carolyn Todd

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