Monday, October 10, 2016

World Mental Health Day

📸: Kellie Harley

Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay which is something that over the years I have become very passionate about. I received my first diagnosis 7 years ago but if I would have had the knowledge I do now and if there wasn't such a stigma surrounding mental illness I would have been diagnosed many years earlier. 7 years ago I had no idea what mental health was and how to take care of it. Over the course of these last 7 years I have learned a lot about myself, my mental health, and ways to take care of it that work for me. Along this journey of learning about myself, I have become very passionate about mental health and educating those who, like me, grew up not knowing anything about it.

With everything that I've been through this year I am more passionate than ever about speaking out and educating others on not only my personal experiences but about mental health in general. Mental health is not just for the mentally ill. Much like our physical bodies, everyone needs to take care of their mental health as well. Mental and Physical health come together to create who we are as a whole human. Not all of us have a mental illness but all of us do need to pay attention and take care of our mental state. It is truly just as important as the things you do to take care of yourself physically.

As someone who has mental illnesses, some of which I've shared and some of which I haven't yet, I have learned the hard way how much of an impact mental health can have on you. I have learned how important it is to be aware of. I have learned how important it is to be educated about it. When someone you love is suffering with something that you may not know anything about it is still so important that you be there for them. Reach out, research, try to understand what they might be going through. A good support system is so so SO important.

For me personally I have an amazing support system. I honestly would not be alive today were it not for my core group of people. When you go through something as hard as this you realize just who you can depend on and who is just saying what they think you want to hear. If you feel inadequate to help someone, you aren't. Don't back off and distance yourself, just support and be there for them. When all this started for me my core group knew nothing about the mental illnesses I was dealing with. Some still don't really understand it but they are totally and completely there for me. You never know what reaching out to someone in distress might do. Be there for the people you love. Be present for the people you care about. It makes a world of difference. Trust me, I know.

In summary I guess what I want to say is; to those with mental illnesses - You are not alone. It may feel like you have no one and no one truly understands you but I PROMISE that is not the case. Let others help you. Let others lift you up. It's okay not to be okay. For those of you who don't have a mental illness - You still need to take care of your mental health. It is so very important, don't forget that. For those of you who have someone you are trying to support - You don't need to know everything about the situation to help. Just be a friend, be someone that they can turn to when they are needing someone. Just talk and listen and offer support. You never know when you're saving a life.

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