May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
Yes, I am aware that it is May 14th and we are about halfway through the month. I intended to post about this two weeks ago, but I had to make a last minute trip out to Nevada for personal reasons so I am a little late to the game.
Better late than never!
Mental health is a very important topic to talk about. Many people act like the subject is taboo or that there is no such thing as mental health and those with poor mental health are just “weak”. I am being totally serious, I have had conversations with these types of people!
Mental health is critical to talk about. I am a contributor on The Mighty and I share my experiences with my mental illnesses on there. I have decided to bring the discussion over to my blog because without mental health, are we truly healthy? We can have physical health but it really doesn’t mean anything if we are not healthy in other areas of our lives.
Thankfully mental health is becoming a more talked about subject but we still have a long way to go as a society. I learned this last week when my most recent post on The Mighty was published and it had a lot of mixed reviews from readers. Many people demeaned my adjustment disorder, claiming that it shouldn’t be a mental illness because everyone struggles with adjustment and that is why we have things called “adjustment periods”. This taught me that we still need to keep discussing mental illnesses, even those that don’t get as much attention. These people were clearly not aware that in order to have an adjustment disorder, one has to have an abnormal reaction to change.
Talking about mental health, and not just during the month of May, will help spread awareness about keeping ourselves mentally healthy and getting help if we are struggling, which will hopefully help with ending the stigma of speaking about it. The more we talk about it, the more comfortable people will feel with getting help because people will realize that there is no shame in getting help. There is no shame with being in therapy. There is no shame with being on medication.
A person with diabetes has to have regular check-ups with their doctor and maybe even a specialist plus they have to be on insulin and maybe other medications. It really is not that different for someone with a mental illness. Think of our therapy sessions as regular check-ups and our medication as our insulin. People are not ashamed of their physical chronic illnesses (usually) so we shouldn’t be ashamed of our mental illnesses.
Another critical reason why discussing mental health is important is so we can pay more attention. We can be aware of what we need to look out for when someone is struggling and step in before it is too late. Take it from someone who has lost a friend to suicide; you do not want to go through it. Pay attention to those who you love and maybe even those whom you don’t particularly like. Take the topic of suicide seriously.
If we share the realities of mental illness, then people will stop romanticizing it, too. People will stop thinking that being depressed is beautiful, being overly stressed is productive, or that it is cute that they need to wash their hands a bunch and have their pencils in a straight line. Mental illness is not beautiful. There is nothing good about it.
I used to be uncomfortable with talking about mental illness, until I was diagnosed with three of them and I realized that I needed to be honest about how I was feeling as well as my thoughts. This has been a crucial part of my recovery. I was also put on an anti-depressant, which was another important part of my recovery.
Now I will write about it like it is just another post. The biggest thing that keeps me going is when I see a comment pop up on The Mighty or their Facebook page where my article is linked and it says something along the lines of, “thank you. I thought I was alone.”
It is important to let anyone struggling know that they are not alone. That the main reason why I talk about mental health.