Principle #2 – Resolve Past Beliefs Surrounding Mental Illness
Our mental health is as important as our physical health. And we need to take care of both for our overall well-being. But there is a stigma in our society that surrounds mental health. Many people that are struggling may feel weak or even ashamed. May is mental health awareness month. This is a big issue in our country, but we can change the way we understand it.
Mental health is a big topic, and I’m definitely not an expert. Still, I’ve had depression, and I’ve had loved ones that have experienced depression. It’s a fact that nearly 1 in 5 Americans has a mental health issue every year. And 50% of Americans will have a mental crisis in their lifetime. We can stop the stigma and discuss this issue that plagues so many.
“What mental health needs are more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”
– Glenn Close
Here’s the journey from a loved one who has suffered from mental illness. This woman is courageous and strong, and I admire her greatly. I’m more than thankful that she decided to share her experience, to help us better understand the struggle.
“When you think of mental health, what is your first thought? Is there something wrong with me? Will I be judged if I get help? How did I get here? I can tell you from personal experience, I have had all those thoughts and more. I did reach out for help, and I did get the help my body and soul needed to heal. Through my journey, I realized that mental health is so much more than just sorting out my emotions. It was truly an adventure of exploring myself to find out who I was as a person and to learn to live my life the way I want to live it.
A little background:
I was a statistic. I lived through trauma and spiraled out of control. I was a person I didn’t recognize and wound up living a life I didn’t want. I dropped out of college with only one year to go, I wound up pregnant, and I started my journey as a struggling single mom. I was scared, depressed, and alone. But my biggest asset was that I was a fighter. I reached out to my parents for help. I started to see a therapist (and am so proud of that), and I got the help I needed. I learned that I was so much more than my traumatic past, and I was so much more than a mental illness. I am a caring woman, a strong woman, and I am a mother! With the help of a village, I picked myself up, went back to school, and earned my business degree. I met the man of my dreams, and we married. And the best part, I have the most amazing son that I wouldn’t trade the world for.
My point to this whole thing is this: mental health is REAL. It is something that needs to be talked about and explored. It is something that needs to be normalized. It is NORMAL to get help. It is NORMAL to feel out of control at times. It is NORMAL to feel lost. What do you do with the knowledge and power you have that makes this topic so endless to talk about? You don’t have to feel as if there is no hope. You don’t have to feel alone. You are never alone. #normalizementalhealthawareness”
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that’s mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” – Fred Rogers
There are things we can do to change our views of mental illness. And ways we can help someone that may be struggling.
- Reach out to a loved one that seems down. Sometimes people may need to talk their feelings out to someone.
- Ask how you can help. What do they need? Don’t try to fix it! Be supportive.
- Be present and listen without distractions.
- Don’t downplay their feelings. Their feelings are real. If they are ignored, they may withdraw.
- Sometimes people need you more than once. Keep checking in with them.
- Suggest they see a therapist. I think everyone needs to see a therapist, especially when someone doesn’t feel comfortable discussing issues with a trusted loved one.
- Don’t judge. This is a biggie. It’s not about you…it’s about them!
- If your loved one is open to dialogue, share an experience you may have had and how you dealt with it. This may help with feelings of being alone.
“Some of the most comforting words in the universe are ‘me too.’ That moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s struggle, that you’re not alone, and that others have been down the same road.” – Unknown
Mental health issues have been brought to the forefront during the pandemic. Humans need connection. And the pandemic has forced many people to work from home. Therefore, that connection has been lost, and depression has set it. Also, children have lost their connection with friends because of remote learning.
Our country is slowly reopening. Most children are back in school, people are going back to work and visiting with family and friends. Mental health issues are still there, and they can’t be ignored. It will take time, patience, and maybe help from a mental health professional before we can move on to our “new normal.”
We can stop the stigma surrounding mental illness by encouraging conversation and awareness. And normalizing treatment and being empathetic and supportive to someone that may be struggling. It will take us all to change our thinking and understanding of this crisis. Be part of the change. #stopthestigma
Freedom is possible!