There you have it. You know more about me than ever before. What do you think? People will disagree with my transparency and say I’ve shared too much. That’s how this works though in my mind. It’s all or nothing. I feel like I would be wasting your time if I left out all of those potentially embarrassing and shameful moments because they were very much a part of my anxiety. I do not feel ashamed however because I know my story has a greater purpose.
The point of my entire blog isn’t to make people feel sorry for me or “woe is me”. I’m here to speak up for others who’ve been unable to do so for fear of disappointment and judgement that may fall upon them. By sharing my story I hope to encourage others to tell theirs. Even if you think no one will care, find a way to share it because the only way our society will start accepting mental illness as an actual illness is if enough of us let them know how real it is.
And it’s not just about me or about people who are diagnosed. It’s about YOU too! If someone you know struggles with mental illness than it most likely affects you. Maybe you’re their caregiver or their boss, or a friend just wanting to know how to help. We are all affected in one way or another. How do we work together on this then?
It starts with education. The Internet has tons of trusted resources. If you know someone who struggles with a mental illness try listening to them and offer to assist in finding professional help. You may feel like you have no clue what you’re doing and that’s okay. You do not need to have all the answers, or any of them. Someone who’s in a mental health crisis may need you to think for them in that particular moment. They need to come down and grab a hold of reality again. We all need help sometimes. We cannot do things alone. We need to take better care of each other.
One important thing to understand is that there are many different diagnoses. The severity changes from person to person. Some manage their illness very well and some do not. Some need meds and some do not. Do yourself a favor and do not compare because like I’ve shared with you, every story is different. I’m on meds. I was unable to hold a job for a while, but believe I am now capable of doing so. While I’m in a much better place than I was almost two years ago, I still struggle with certain things. I believe I have my depression and anxiety under control, and simply have small things to work on. They will take practice, but have come as a result of my mental illness, the shame I’ve felt. A few things on my list include:
I tried to make that last one sound a bit overwhelming, but with a touch of humor to make myself feel more human-like. Did it work? Are you thinking that everyone has these feelings? It’s true. We all go through bouts of these, but there is a difference between a fleeting moment and a long-lasting one. Especially when accompanied with a chemical imbalance that can result in the brain thinking ridiculous things, scary things, unwanted things, and so much more. Trust me, there is a difference. When these things start affecting our ADLs (activities of daily living), our performance at work, and our relationships, that is not normal, and beyond fleeting moments of sadness and disappointment.
So what can you do? I’ve already said to try and listen. Open your heart and let people in. Don’t judge. Start there. Then, educate yourself. I’m not going to repeat what you can find in the links below, so just visit these sites. These are great, trusted resources for you and anyone else wanting to learn more. The NAMI Homefront is FREE, and helps people understand PTSD. You should really check it out. Also below, is a resource for Teens. Even if you’re not a teen, but let’s say a parent of one, this is still a great resource for you.
The effort it takes to visit these links and to read the information they provide is extremely minimal. It takes up your time, but even 10 minutes will do some good. But, the difference you can make in doing so is extremely important! Personally, I would be very grateful for your time, but I also want to thank you in advance on behalf of others because I know that someone you love would be very appreciative of your time.
NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI Homefront is a free, 6-session educational program for families, caregivers and friends of military service members and veterans with mental health conditions.
NAMI Family Members and Caregivers
NIMH National Institute of Mental Health
I just want all people to learn and grow together.