It’s not easy to talk about. In fact, it’s almost “taboo” for many people. It’s neglected, swept under the rug, and we pretend nothing is wrong.
But we need to talk. And we need to act.
May is mental health awareness month.
Your brain is the most complex part of your entire body. It’s an organ- just like your heart, your lungs, kidneys, etc. We treat heart disease, we treat things like kidney stones and we even take over the counter meds when we have a little congestion in our chest…. but we act as if ANYTHING wrong with our mind is completely hush-hush and we neglect it.
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.(43.8 million)experiences mental illness in a given year.
Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.(9.8 million)experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.(NAMI)
With those statistics, it’s extremely likely that you KNOW someone who suffers from a mental illness, but you may not KNOW they are suffering.
The thing is, most people won’t ask for help. For many, it’s embarrassing to talk about it.
I know it seems like every time you turn around there’s an “awareness” campaign going on- but in this matter, spreading awareness might be the single best way to make a world where those suffering can feel able to reach out to get the help they need. It needs to be talked about, and it needs to be de-mystified.
People who have mental health issues do not all fit the stereotype you think of. They are your friends, your family, your co-workers. They are people who may seem perfectly “fine”.
People living with a mental illness are experiencing things like pain, anguish, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, uncontrollable crying, sadness, mood swings, FEAR, rage, wild irritability, sweats, delusions, hallucinations, feelings of worthlessness.
“According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 42,773 Americans die by suicide each year.” That’s 117 people every day. Every 12 minutes an American dies by suicide. EVERY. DAY.
The saddest part of it all is that some people feel they can no longer cope, and end their own lives to escape the agony.
It’s easy for those without illness to brush it off and think that they should “just get over it” or “deal with it”, or that they just need to realize that they have “their whole lives ahead of them”.
What is the right thing to say? I don’t know. I DO know that you can listen. Don’t judge. Just be there. Spend time with them.
Show that you care. If you feel incapable of doing that, then at the very least BE NICE. BE ACCEPTING. You may not understand what they are going through-
The things that brought them joy no longer do so.
They feel swallowed up by a darkness that feels like it is consuming them.
Their days are running together, like an endless nightmare.
They feel completely empty and yet at the same time full of sorrow.
They feel like everyone looks at them with accusing eyes.
They feel different than everyone else, and unaccepted.
They are in a lonely place that is inexplicably loud.
They can’t turn off the voices that try to persuade them that everyone is better off without them.
They are riddled with thoughts of “what’s the point?”
They have cried so hard already that they are numb.
They just want to sleep forever.
And if you’re reading this, and you’re dealing with suicidal thoughts… I can only ask for now that you please wait. Wait until tomorrow, and then wait until the next tomorrow and the next.
It’s possible that 10 “tomorrow’s” , or even 100 of them might be just as hard as today. But “tomorrow” you might turn a corner and see the sun unexpectedly shining bright. “Tomorrow” you might run into an old friend that brightens your day and makes the next few “tomorrow’s” easier.
But you’ll never know unless you wait.
I don’t know where you’re at right now, and I don’t know how you’re feeling. I only know where I’ve been. And it’s hard…
But so far, I’ve been waiting till tomorrow- and life has thrown me some sunshine in places that I didn’t see coming. Some of my “tomorrow’s” ended up completely changing my life- when I was SURE nothing would ever change.
I look back now and I’m so so glad I waited. I’m so glad I didn’t miss what was just around the corner. I’m not promising you that it will be that way for you… But it might.
I don’t have the answers, but if you need to talk I am here. If I can’t help I will find someone who can, and we will all work on it together.
Choose to stay and fight. You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. But if any fight is worth winning, this is it.
Just please wait.
Love one another. Always.