All this talk about Mental Health

Why all the talk about mental health?

Feels like it’s everywhere right now. Regular folks are talking. Famous folks are talking.

It’s EVERYwhere.

And yet.

It’s NOwhere. Not all the places it matters. And it DOES matter.

Places like schools, work, personal relationships, and parent-child relationships.

Mental illness is lonely. You really feel like it’s JUST YOU. Everyone else is fine, chugging along. And here you are in this lonely space unsure of what is going on.

So you say nothing.

Or maybe you DO say something but who you open up to discounts you. Dismisses you. Makes you feel like it is of your own making. Then you feel regret for saying anything at all. Then you stop saying anything. You feel like YOU did this. You feel like this is YOUR fault.

And it’s not. It’s not your fault. It is chemistry. It is life experiences. It is real. It matters. You deserve help. You deserve to feel your happiness. You are worthy and worth it.

It’s lonely no matter what age it appears. But I think we feel the most lonely when we experience mental illness as children. This is how it was for me. I felt like my experiences and the resulting feelings were my fault. That I let myself down, that I brought it on. I didn’t feel like I had any value. Worth. I felt like this world didn’t need me in it. That I was tolerated. That I didn’t matter. That became part of my development. I carried that well into adulthood. 

Then I really felt weak. Twenty year old pain. How it had become part of me, how I saw myself, and how it affected the interactions in my daily life. A person can only live like that for so long until the weight becomes crushing and it all falls apart. And one can only hope that there is a sliver left, enough to raise your hand and say “I need help”. I grateful for my sliver.

It takes a lot of work. No magic pills. Although, the anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication I took was significantly impactful to my initial recovery.

It’s still a lot of work for me, even today. That’s the thing. Sometimes it just doesn’t go away. It sticks around for a lot of people (like me). Every day is an exercise in healthy coping, recovery, and medication. There is a little whisper always there. Fighting your progress. Most days you win, and some days you don’t. That’s ok. Try again tomorrow. Because you are worthy of a tomorrow.

So yeah, we need to talk about it.  It’s not new. It’s not a fad. It’s real. And we need to accept and support one another. We need think before we speak. We need to consider the many faces of mental illness. It does not discriminate.

I imagine it is hard for those who have never been affected to really understand what is going on. Easy to make assumptions. I get it. Our community is very supportive. But we need you to support us too.

Learn as much as you can. Listen as much as you can. Encourage professional help as much as you can. Accept us (and love us) for who we are today and who we will become tomorrow. Celebrate the good days with us. Hug us through the hard days. You are making a difference even though you may not feel like it in the moment.

Let’s keep talking about it. As much as we can. To whoever we can. You are not alone. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. There are people in YOUR life having these experiences. Family. Friends. Co-workers. The neighbor. The neighbor’s kid. The deli lady. The deli lady’s brother. Your boss. The Pharmacist.

There are millions of us. Love one another. Support one another.

Keep talking.

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