Why Mental Health Matters

Hey y’all! It’s been quite awhile now. I almost didn’t come back to this blog, and was going to let my domain expire. However, I decided to keep it in case I decided I needed somewhere to really put my thoughts out there. Today is that day. I have a lot more to say than one Facebook post could hold. So, here goes nothing!

If you feel you may be in crisis – 24/7 Support is available for you: Text MHA to 741741, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their chat feature here!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so let’s talk about it!

For so long, our society has treated mental illnesses as complete taboo. But why? Will people think we are crazy? Will we seem “damaged” and incapable of sustaining relationships? Why are we afraid of how others perceive us if something about us isn’t perfect?

“Why do we put off seeking help when we know we so desperately need it?” That is a question I ask myself every single day.

You see, if I look back, I can pinpoint exactly where I began to notice issues in my mental health. As far back as mid-2013, I knew something wasn’t right, but I was too afraid of reaching out. I stayed in an extremely toxic relationship because I thought I was in love. I suffered abuse & torment from a “man” who always found a way to spin our situation to seem much lighter than it actually was. And I craved the attention, as sad as it is to say now. Above all, I needed to be perfect, I needed to have perfect grades, I couldn’t have something wrong with me! That’s crazy!!

Except, it wasn’t crazy at all. It was a grim reality I was faced with every single day. I was in denial, but I know those closest to me watched me hide behind this mask of myself. I was deteriorating, and I was in denial. And by 2015, I was in so deep, I lost my job, failed every single class, dropped out of college and moved back home. And it should have been then that I reached out, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to brave it out, put on that picture perfect “everything’s okay” smile, and tried to keep myself going.

And 2015 was perhaps one of the darkest points of my life. So bad, that I can say with all honesty that I do not remember a lot of it. And while it was the beginning of what would be a brutal awakening for my health, the years to follow did not come easy at all.

By 2017, I was carrying stress of a full time job & an undiagnosed mental illness that when my grandma (one of the most important people in my life) fell ill, I almost completely lost it. When she did pass that November, I was just ready to quit. I didn’t know how I was going to keep going without her, but I did, and I still do. I knew I had to keep going, for her, for my family, and most importantly, myself.

I found peace in physical activity. My mind didn’t race as much when I ran, or when I lifted weights. I could focus on myself and my healing. Nothing else mattered when I was being active. It was a newfound comfort, and it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.

In late 2018 through early 2019, when I was suffering from unrelated severe gastrointestinal issues, I decided to switch primary care doctors. I needed a new approach and second opinion. And it truly was a blessing in disguise for me. Seeing this new doctor, I was able to have other exams I hadn’t been offered at my previous PCP. Some of these exams included mental health assessments and thorough physical exams. It was because of these exams that I was able to obtain further screenings and offered many other services and resources for my health.

In September 2019, just days after my 26th birthday, I was formally diagnosed with depression. Over 6 years after my initial hunches I’d had about my health, that I’d been too afraid to reach out about. 6 years I suffered, feeling alone and ashamed that I was “damaged.” And my doctor has been incredible in this entire journey.

I was referred to some wonderful resources, given options for treatment. I’ve spent the last 8 months or so finding what works for me. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on being more mindful of my health, and while I have some bad days, there’s been a lot more good days than ever before! I’m learning to navigate past trauma & no longer allow it to dictate how I pursue my current relationships or life in general. The healing has allowed me to rebuild relationships I’d spent years tearing down & even helped me to be honest with myself about my own toxicity in certain situations.

I have always and continue to advocate strongly for mental health awareness in the lives of my loved ones. I want others to know that not being okay, is totally okay! We are not meant to be perfect, and sometimes, we need to be able to put down our defenses and say, “I can’t do this alone.”

Whether you reach out to a peer, a health professional or even just write your feelings down, it’s so important to get everything off your chest somehow. I can’t even begin to tell y’all how much of a difference simply writing things down and documenting parts of my life have positively influenced my mental health. But of course, we aren’t all the same! Do what works for you! But if you feel like you might not be okay, know that there are resources available for you!

We all deserve to tell our stories, and no matter how ugly it might get, we can always create a better ending for ourselves. We’re all living on our own timelines, so it’s important to be patient with our healing processes.

I was blessed to have an incredible support system who saw me struggling, and without having to say a word, simply loved me through the roughness. I know it could not have been easy for them, but I owe my life to those who’ve held me close when even I just wanted to let go.

I am one of the luckier ones. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that kind of support in their lives. And to those of you who may be reading, I want you to know that there is support for you. If you aren’t ready to speak with your doctor or aren’t sure what kinds of signs you should be looking for, I’ve compiled a list below of great resources to reference. This also goes for those of you who feel you may know someone who needs your support.

A good rule of thumb? Treat everyone kindly, always. You never know what’s going on in their lives & you definitely have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on in their heads. Be kind, spread love, and always treat others as you’d want to be treated!

I started this post about how the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While our mental well-being is important year round, I have decided to use my social media presence to especially shed light on breaking the stigma of mental illness in our lives during this month.

Here are just a few links I pulled from Mental Health America’s website, but their entire site as a whole has endless resources for those who are seeking out information or guidance in learning more about mental health:

How can I improve my mental health on my own?

Use free screening tools to assess your mental health situation, by Mental Health America.

What to do if you think a loved one may be suffering with mental illness?

MHA’s Center for Peer Support

Feel free to reference the infographic at the end of this post to see 2015 mental health statistics from Mental Health America, which shows how common mental illnesses are, and how it’s not obscure to believe that you may be unknowingly suffering. This also shows how important it is to seek help earlier in your issues to prevent worse deterioration for yourself and your loved ones!

If you feel you may be in crisis – 24/7 Support is available for you: Text MHA to 741741, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their chat feature here!

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