Mental Health Awareness Month

#StigmaFree

#StigmaFree

Some of you may or may not know this, but May is mental health awareness month. As you read this some of you are probably thinking, “oh that makes sense” as I am sure you have viewed many posts and pictures with #StigmaFree. Maybe for some of you this is the first you’re hearing about it, and that’s what I want to talk about.

I have wanted to write something profound for this month. I think I did last year but honestly I don’t remember. In all reality my life has caught up with me and before I knew it, I realized it was the end of May. Mental health month is already almost over and as someone who considers themselves a voice for many who suffer from various psychiatric illnesses; I was appalled at my behavior. Not because I didn’t post sooner, but because I briefly felt like May was my only month to talk about mental health. I know that sounds silly but I am sure many have thought something similar. It is almost like I feel the need to have an excuse or a reason to talk about mental illnesses. How ironic is it that the month that is dedicated to “Breaking the stigma” is the only time many people feel that they have the freedom to talk about it.

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I think this viewpoint can be said about many issues. The world we live in relies a lot on what people tell us to do. We dump buckets of ice on our head, we do 22 push-ups for 20 days, we tag friends in posts, we challenge them to talk about something or we challenge them to do something, with the small hope that the right person will see it and it will help someone. This isn’t a bad thing; I mean it gets people talking. But I worry that at times that is all we are doing.

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Mental health should be one of the most important causes that we, as human, fight for. Why, because without your brain, there is no you. Do you know how many people fight with their brain daily just to be able to feel like they matter? Just to be able to get out of bed?

Here are a few statistics according to the National Alliance on mental illness (NAMI) Site:

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—10 million, or 4.2%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
  • 9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
  • 1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8

And what I think is the most important

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.,20 the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–2421 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.22

Please go to the site and read more facts here: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

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I keep reading and rewriting this post. Wishing that I could magically point out the importance but I can’t but what I can do is try.

Don’t be like me. Don’t believe that the only time you can talk about a topic is during its awareness month. We will never change anything if we only talk about it for a month out of the year. Studies say it can take 21-266 consecutive days of doing something in order to make it a habit or in order to make it a part of your everyday life. That means that we have to talk about this every day in order to make a change. And what we need to talk about is this.

  1. Mental health is important. It should be a number one priority.
  2. If you have a mental illness, you should never feel the need to hide it. And you should know you are NEVER ALONE
  3. Every single person on this earth deserves compassion for whatever struggle they are going through.

I live with a mental illness. At times it controls my life. I live with a mental illness and at times it is suffocating and I feel like there is no way out. I live with a mental illness, it influences who I am but it does not make me what I am. I am still a person, a real person like everyone else.

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I live with a mental illness but I know that I am not alone and neither are you. Together, we can and should change things.

*Disclaimer: If this doesn’t make sense I apologize, half way through I had a whopper of a migraine start to kick in and it made it hard to focus. But this was written with the best of intentions.

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4 thoughts on “Mental Health Awareness Month

  1. Hi Valerie, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your honest, heartfelt, eloquent post. I have tried so many times to explain it, but it’s not heard or understood. So instead, I continue to put on the make up, wear nice clothes and paint the smile on so no-one is freaked out by me. Take care Kx

  2. Thank you for writing this. It really helped to have the reminder today that I’m not alone and that I’m allowed to speak about my experience – no matter how others respond.

    I’ve had endless negative responses to my disclosing of my mental illness and each one of them is to some degree re-traumatizing. Each time I’ve felt like I somehow messed up, that I’m not doing good enough, not sucking it up, not being grateful enough for what I do have… But just because I feel self attack when other people judge me, doesn’t mean those people are right for minimizing my experience or trivializing my struggle. It doesn’t mean that I have to keep my mouth shut and hide what I’m going through.

    Thank you for the courage boost.

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