To understand a person with a mental illness, you must first separate the person from the illness. A person is not depressed, a person has or suffers from depression. A person is not schizophrenic, a person has or suffers from schizophrenia. We must then understand that people suffer and live with mental illnesses in many different ways. For example, I am a upbeat, positive person and appear to be happy most days. Yet, what if I told you that there have been many mornings where I’d wake up and it is a constant struggle to get out of bed or I look in the mirror and I see this unpretty, sad human being? What if I told you that there have been days where I felt worthless and not enough? What if I told you that I felt that my family and friends would be better off without me and I wanted to run away from everything and everybody without notice? Now, lets be clear, I have never thought about taking my own life for my strong beliefs in the most high and my morals and values would never allow me to go that route but there have been days that I just wanted or have curled into a ball and disappear just to stop my thoughts and my feelings from taking over. Yet, I continue to function and focus as much as I possibly can. I am a high functioning human being despite my depression and anxiety. I tend to drowned my sorrows and my brokenness by keeping myself busy at times hiding what I was feeling from EVERYONE. Yet, the hardest part was maintaining that lifestyle without anyone noticing. I got to the point when I knew something was wrong and I did not want to live like this anymore. This lifestyle was not just effecting me but it was effecting everyone around me. I knew I have to seek help, I had to talk to someone, my lifestyle needed to change. Although I still struggle, I have found positive ways in handling my illness. I take everyday, one day at a time but everyday can also be a battle within.
Some people stories are similar to mine and others story are much different and sometimes have a different outcome. We must not assume we know how things are or how they are suppose to be. Here a few things we all should do:
*Get The Conversation Started: We need to start talking to each other about Mental Health, PERIOD. Some see the subject as Taboo or only effects certain people. We need to get clear and understand that Mental Illness and Mental Health effects EVERYONE regardless of age, gender, color, or creed. IT IS REAL.
*Research: We need to do our research, we need to ask questions, we need to get involved and realize that mental illness is a problem in society and it needs to be addressed. For a person that lives with a mental illness everyday, everyday is a battle within that most times cannot be avoided. Yet, with every battle, an army must be built, a support system must be put in place.
*Recognize/Get Involved: We must recognize the situation and the realness of what is occurring and figure out productive ways to fight. Whether its helping in your community, becoming a mental health advocate, increasing your knowledge and awareness on mental health, or being a part of a support group, there are so many ways in stopping the stigma.
*Be Mentally Ready: We must also understand that necessity of taking care of our brain. The brain is the most complex organ in the body, without it, one cannot survive. We need to take better care of ourselves, eating healthy, building and maintaining healthy relationships, thinking and speaking positive thoughts, getting rid of mess or things that our negatively effecting our lives, energy, and environment. We need to support each other, give positive affirmations and vibes to each, build each other and not tear each other down.
For those that struggle with mental illness :
*Recognize: Its ok to not be ok. Let your emotions out. Cry, scream/shout, be upset…just don’t stay down too long and DO NOT react based on emotion. When we react or respond based on emotion, it can sometimes get us in trouble. Sometimes if a person holds in there emotions for too long or allows it to build up, “those emotions can build up and it usually is shown in inappropriate behavior” as Dr. Iyanla Vanzant has stated. We have to allow are heart to break, our soul to open up, and show that vulnerability.
*Know When Help is Necessary: Sometimes, we must recognize that we cannot heal alone. There are many resources that can assist. Whether its medication, therapy, energy cleansing, a support group, etc., it starts with you taking the steps and not being afraid to do so.
*Love/Honor Self: The most important thing we can do, those that are living with struggles, we need to love and accept ourselves for who we are, flaws and all. I will be the first to tell you that this is one of the hardest things to do but you must speak it, believe it, and embrace it.
*Negativity Must Go: If something or someone is not adding value to your life, you must release it. For anything that is hurting you and your growth is not worth holding on to.
*Don’t Be Afraid to Live Life: You have your place in the world, own it and be open for what is to come. Don’t be afraid of the unknown, the only one who knows what’s going to happen is God.
*Let Go: Let go, you cannot changed what happened. It is called the past because you are getting past it. If you made a mistake, recognize it, understand it, accept it, move forward. Consider some things a lessoned learned.
I am hoping that by sharing this, it will give encouragement to whomever my need it. I am not a professional nor have I every claimed to be but I am a firm believer that no one should have suffer in silence as I did for most of my adult life. No one should have to bury there loved one at the age of 20 and 35 because they took there own life due to mental illness. No one should ever have to go through emotional pain and struggle and feel alone in the battle. This is a battle that ALL need to fight in order to win.