Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mental Health Monday - Be Brave

Welcome to Mental Health Monday!  This idea was born from a session at Fitbloggin' 15 led by Steph (of Athlete at Heart) and Liz (of Prior Fat Girl) on Depression, Anxiety and Healthy Living.  Every 1st and 3rd Monday one of those wonderful ladies will host a link up for others to share their experiences with mental illness – either from personal experience or from the experience of helping and walking with others. The goal is to reach out to the world and let people know they are not alone in their struggles.  You are never alone.  Join in– link up, visit new blogs, support others.  Speak out:
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This one is going to be a difficult post to write today because one of the big ways in which mental illness is currently affecting my life is through the pain of someone else. Someone in my family, someone I am unable to ask for permission to discuss this openly, is in a really bad place right now. Probably a place worse than you or I can even imagine. Her disease is the main reason she going through these horrible circumstances and right now, there is not much our family can do to help. All we can do is be there for her when her circumstances change.

I know, that’s so vague right?

You have no idea what I am talking about and are probably wondering why I am not doing more to help this person. All I can say is, there is nothing I can do currently and you will just have to believe me.

Why I write about this today is not to leave you in the dark but to share with you some of my feelings and experiences and ask for you to show kindness and understanding.

Trust me, I wish for nothing more to eliminate the pain and hardships brought into my life and the lives of others because of mental illness. It is not often discussed openly, or at least not in my eyes, and it is an area where I feel this country is lacking. From support for military transitioning home or suffering from PTSD, from mothers barely living with PPD, to anyone (any person from any race, age, social class) suffering silently with mental illness. We could be doing more.

When I was a kid I was ridiculed because of my mom’s illness. That was hard to understand. Heck, being that young I barely understood her illness myself. I was in no state to defend her. I couldn’t educate others about mental illness or even try teach others to empathize. I just took it their unkind words and felt ashamed and embarrassed because of her illness. 

Now as an adult, I want to talk about my experiences openly. It took me a long time to feel comfortable being honest about her illness and how it affected me as well as my dealings with depression and anxiety. It is hard to discuss now but not because I feel ashamed. Not in the slightest. But because those memories are painful. Some are buried deep, deep, deep down and may never resurface. But some have stayed with me every day. A constant reminder of who I am.

You see, I believe I made it to 37 years old because I had people in my life that were there for me as a child, to help me process my mother’s illness and to support and provide me with a happy environment during the worst of times. Also, I feel I made it this far (I won a battle many of my friends lost) because I had enough bravery inside to ask for help,  to talk about my emotions/feelings, or to try a push through when I was at my lowest, darkest times. I also had luck on my side to let me make it this far. And now I want to help others know they too can be brave, even when they doubt themselves, even when they don’t want to, they can.

I want people to know that their lives have value and meaning, influence and impact, and that they (no matter how much they doubt it) have a purpose. I want people to know that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and that help is out there. I want people to know that although we each feel pain and sadness differently, that at our core- we all still feel. We can relate to one another. I want people to know that they are never alone.

So today, I write this for anyone that needs to hear it (which isn’t that all of us?) – you are important, you are loved, please be brave enough to recognize that. And no matter what, help is always available and I plead to you to just be brave enough to ask.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255

National Alliance on Mental Illness - Find Support or 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) 

To Write Love on Her Arms – Local Resources

Love and hugs,