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A letter to Dwayne Johnson

Thank you for openly talking about mental health and dispelling the stigma.

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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson flashes the "U" during the WrestleMania 28 press conference Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in Miami Beach, Florida. (C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald/MCT)

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson flashes the "U" during the WrestleMania 28 press conference Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in Miami Beach, Florida. (C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald/MCT)

MCT

MCT

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson flashes the "U" during the WrestleMania 28 press conference Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in Miami Beach, Florida. (C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald/MCT)

Jarrod Castillo, Staff Writer

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Dear Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,

Though you may never read this I want to thank you for making your secret battle with depression public.

I know it must’ve been difficult to publicly disclose your experience with mental health. In doing so, you’re helping thousands, maybe millions, who look up to you find the courage to speak up about their own battle.

Contrary to popular belief, depression doesn’t just affect the downtrodden or the poor. Depression is a silent killer that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or social status.

No, depression will find you and chase after you until you are firmly in its grasp, never letting you go. Even in the middle of a great day with friends or family, depression can rear its ugly head and all of a sudden, you’re down in the dumps for no particular reason.

According to a report by the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 16.2 million adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2016. Looking at the larger picture, that number represented about 6.7 percent of the U.S.’s population of adults.

Digging deeper into the numbers, about 3.1 million adolescents from ages 12 to 17 have had at least one major depressive episode. That’s about 12.8 percent of the population of 12 to 17-year olds in the United States.

In an interview with the Express, a UK-based publication, you recall your mom’s suicide attempt when you were 15 years old. This story really hit me hard, because it mirrored things that I have experienced.

“I reached a point where I didn’t want to do a thing or go anywhere,” you said. “I was crying constantly.”

Not only that but after that episode, you were able to find the strength within to carry on and fight depression, avoiding becoming suicidal like your mother.

“We both healed, but we’ve always got to do our best to pay attention when other people are in pain,” We have to help them through it and remind them they are not alone.”

That last part resonates because in a strange twist, the stigma that comes with mental health makes it difficult to help anyone that might need it, furthering that feeling of loneliness.

With the way mental health is portrayed in the media i.e., people with mental health typically tend to be school shooters or people who are insane, it makes it difficult to address the topic.

However, being honest about your personal struggles with mental health, I think we will start to see more and more people come forward. Couple that with the fact that you have an enormous amount of clout, and this can help people take that first step to find the help they need and start on the journey of recovery.

I hope more celebrities follow in your footsteps to dispel the stigma that comes with depression. Plus it shows that even for someone with a “tough guy” image that seems to have everything, depression is not something to be ashamed of.

Personally, it was hard for me to acknowledge my depression because as a man, we are always told to “suck it up” because “real men don’t talk about their feelings.” As a result, I kept ignoring what my mind was telling me until it piled up and overflowed.

With the stigma that came with mental health, I initially thought I was going crazy. But after accepting what was happening and getting help, I am on the road to recovery and although it may be a lifelong battle, I will keep going.

Depression and mental health as a whole need to be talked about openly because they affect more people than we realize. Keeping these feelings inside doesn’t help anyone and is only a detriment to those who are dealing with it.

So thank you, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, for dropping the Rock Bottom on the idea that depression only affects certain people. Hopefully, you’ll be able to drop the People’s Elbow to knockout the stigma by pinfall for good.

Sincerely,

An extremely appreciative fan.

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