I find it interesting that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Spring is a fickle bitch. The weather is kind of nice yet kind of blah. It’s sometimes warm with cold spurts mixed in. The trees and flowers are starting to bloom but overall nature is still pretty barren. The expectation is for people to be jovial and happy. Winter has finally made its exit and now we can all play outside without heavy jackets, frostbite, snowstorms, etc. etc.
This narrative of spring is an interesting parallel to mental health. The societal expectation is for us to have our shit together 100% of the time but it’s not realistic. We are human beings. We have thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Feelings are scary. We get uncomfortable and awkward when we see others experiencing sadness, anxiousness, pain, etc. We have a hard time processing the same feelings when we experience them ourselves. Many choose to change the subject, pretend that everything is fine, distract, deflect, disassociate. Bottom line - it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to seek treatment. It’s okay to take meds for mental illness. It’s possible to live a completely normal and well adjusted life with a mental illness. Mental illness does not equal crazy. Mental illness is not imaginary.
We are so afraid of being judged that we are willing to compromise our health and livelihood for the falsehood that everything is ‘fine’ and that we have our shit together. I did this for the first twenty years of my life until I reached the end of my rope. I did everything in my power to convince those around me, including my husband, that I was fine when in reality I was a shell of a person. I had spent my teens and twenties going through the motions until it had gotten so bad that I woke up one day ready to give up. I laid on my bedroom floor, crying, ready to take every pill that I could find, and then I started to pray. The universe works in mysterious ways because in that moment but husband came home to check on me for no reason in particular. When he walked through that door, I was given a second chance.
I checked in to treatment a few weeks later and spent five of the most emotionally intense yet healing weeks of my life. Was I afraid of what people would think of me? Absolutely. Did I care? At first, yes. But at the end of the day my life was on the line. I slowly stopped giving two shits about what people thought because I was finally free. My story is much more an intense and complex and I am still working on being the best version of myself but I am grateful for every day that I get to wake up and live. It's not all roses but it is indeed a glorious mess.
I do think that as a society we have made significant strides in talking about mental health and trying to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. But we still have a long way to go. The world we live in is becoming increasingly more intense, unstable, and anxious. Humans need support now more than ever.
Mental illness is real. Let’s talk about it. Let’s support one another. Let’s check in with our friends, family members, co-workers, etc. Let’s be honest about our own struggles. And for God sakes, let’s stop judging those who need help. It’s not cool to be an asshole, so don’t be one.
If you or anyone you know is in need of immediate attention, please contact the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)