The End of Mental Health Month but Not the Stigma

Sergeant Gonzalo Duran
Executive Officer Devil Dog USA
United States Marine Corps Veteran

With the end of Mental Health Month, our very own Lisa Spencer, who is our resident (CASAC-T) Chemical Abuse Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee, has started our #EndTheStigma campaign.

She has asked me to start off the campaign by sharing my mental health conditions. I suffer from social anxiety and psoriasis. My social anxiety keeps me from developing close relationships but I have managed to develop coping mechanisms for work purposes. My psoriasis is hidden with a tremendous amount of medication that is covered up superficially but continues to damage me internally.

When people find out about my conditions they question how can you do public speeches, conduct interviews, and engage in community work with social anxiety. The truth is, it takes a lot of work from beginning to end on my part. When it is all said and done, the sweating and panic attacks are hurdled by a huge bout of energy; all hidden behind a bright smile (plus a lot of self criticism at the end of the day.)

My psoriasis is so bad, it engulfs my entire body. This autoimmune condition has developed into psoriatic arthritis over the years. I have patches all over myself which touches and overlaps on my anxiety. You see I have two use a minimum of five different creams to keep it at bay but it is only a temporary surface solution, which does not help resolve the condition affecting me internally.

With that being said, these issues cause me a tremendous amount of embarrassment at times but I push through it. I am fortunate that over the years, I have come to accept it. I am sharing my story with you in the hopes you will come to understand that you are not alone.

I hope next time you see me, you are encouraged to say hi. It will help ease a lot of my tension.

If you are a Veteran or an individual with a mental health condition and would like to be featured in an article, please send us an email at

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