Have you noticed the surge in mental health talks, posts + topics discussed in media this past week? It’s almost hard NOT to notice as recent headlines have left us learning that some of our iconic celebrities and innovative creators and reporters have made the decision to painfully take their own life. It’s devastating to learn about these occurrences, + yet I’m really glad that it’s become a topic of conversation getting the word out because this ish is important! The thing is, I’ve been talking about mental health matters for years- overcoming depression, anxiety + an eating disorder myself. We can’t just talk about this stuff when a note-worthy celebrity is in the news because they are no longer here on earth, we have to make it a point of discussion with the people we know + love most. Sometimes it’s the people that are “strong + silent” or peppy + bubbly that need the support the most. Like the photo of me here. This was taken over the weekend, I was on a high in the moment, but truth be told, I have battling some depression + serious anxiety these past few weeks. I am now in a good place, luckily I have an incredible support system to reach out to (Supportive Therapist, Registered Dietitian + even a Psychiatrist if I need one), + that’s the kind of help we need when we are feeling like something’s just “not right”. Millions of people are struggling with mental health matters every day + we need to do something to make it a less scary topic of conversation + make it more approachable of a topic. Here’s how we can do it.
When I was admitted into inpatient treatment back in 2009, the first thing I learned was that I had to talk about my emotions. I had no idea my eating disorder or depression was about that at all, + I certainly didn’t want to talk about my struggles… that would mean I was weak, not perfect, maybe people wouldn’t like me if they knew I was going through something? My treatment team encouraged me to learn to identify my emotions + start talking about all of the crap I was going through. At first it was super painful. I mean, I had to talk about all of the things that weren’t going right in my life. I also had to start dealing with things that had created a hole in my heart in the past. Things that hurt me to think about or talk about.
The more I pushed myself to share, the less I noted it was hurting me inside. I noticed that when I shared, other people could relate. They cared about my well-being + a lot of those people wanted to connect or help me get out of that painful space. At first I only shared these thoughts + experiences with my treatment team (Therapists, Registered Dietitians, Psychiatrists) etc. but as I became more comfortable having these discussions, I shared my thoughts with people I really trusted; like my parents + my sister, my roommates + close friends. The people inside of my circle that really love me have always supported me when I’ve shared my feelings with them- through the ups + sometimes scary downs. It was through those conversations + experiences that I learned I could be vulnerable, experience immense pain on the inside, but yet have the gift of love + compassion from people I admired + trusted.
After growing in my journey to self-love + recovery, I started sharing my story at hospitals with others who had gone through similar experiences + learned that mental health is really an epidemic that needs the attention of the world. Not just the people who are already getting professional help. Millions of people suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, insomnia, eating disorders, + countless other mental health matters each day. We cannot wait for something terrible or tragic to happen to make this a discussion on the news. It needs to be talked about on a regular basis- with your friends, family + with children. Let me ask you this question- have you ever asked for help when you think you need it most? Have you asked a friend how they are doing lately regarding their own happiness or lack thereof? What about the response, “I’m good”? Are you always good when someone asks you that + you respond? See what I mean? Signs of someone struggling with a mental health matter can be as simple of noticing an absence on social media, hearing from someone less frequently (calls, texts, etc.), notice someone is very reserved or not engaging in conversation like they used to, only expressing one emotion on a consistent basis, + so forth.
If you know you are struggling or someone you love is struggling, have the tough conversation to bring up the stuff that matters most. It can save a life, change a life or create an opportunity for personal growth. Don’t be afraid of the unknown, making a change or having that tough talk. It is more powerful than you even know. Resources for mental health matters include but are not limited to the National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1.800.273.8255, http://www.healthline.com for support identifying what kind of help you might want to seek including next steps, Mental Health at Mentalhealth.gov , or The Crisis Text Line which is a 24 hour text only service at 741.741 and text “START” to get going. This is not an exhaustive list but it’s a start if you’re needing help or think a friend or family member might need that support. Remember you can always conduct a simple Google search to find therapists or psychiatrists in your area to get going, too.
One last thing I want to mention is that you don’t have to be contemplating hurting yourself to seek help. Many times, feelings of depression, not knowing the last time you truly felt happy, notice you don’t want to be social or interact with others or have lost your personal interests or hobbies are all signs that your mental health might need some attention. There’s no shame in asking for help or taking care of what you need most. You matter. End of story.