In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m sending love to all those who are fighting a battle to maintain their mental health. I’m sending love to all of those who are taking this walk alone and silently. No one chooses to experience struggles with their mental health, but it takes a lot of strength and courage to pull yourself out of a dark place mentally. I know this because I’ve done this myself. In 2017 I had reached a breaking point. My mom had just suffered a severe stroke which left her paralyzed and unable to speak, and my marriage was crumbling. I was operating on autopilot and really struggling with all that was going on in my life. I’ve always been the strong friend and the one person that everyone has been able to depend on. However, the girl that seemed unbreakable was definitely breaking! I was losing it; losing my faith, losing my marriage, losing my fight and losing my will to live. Ever hear people say, “they’re only alive because of their children?” Well that was me! I didn’t know it at the time but I was experiencing anxiety, depression and passive suicidal ideation (having thoughts of no longer wanting to live, but not actually coming up with a plan to take my life). Every time the thought of no longer wanting to live crept up on me, my conscious would kick in and remind me that I mattered and the love from daughters and that I had for them was stronger than any thought of ending my life.
I remember talking to my then husband at the time and telling him I felt like my mental health was off and he laughed at me, told me “I was crazy” and nothing was wrong with me. Since then I’ve learned to forgive him (I had to learn that if he knew better he would’ve reacted better), but I resented him for that comment and it was one of the reasons I fell out of love with the one person that I was hoping would save me. How could he not notice? I struggled with finding the strength to do anything. I would go to work, come home and lock myself in the room; having only the desire to sleep. This went on for months before I built up the courage and willpower to seek professional help. This was ultimately the best decision that I could ever have made. I’ve always been so quick to save everyone else but I started fighting for me. If I was going to be emotionally available to my daughters I had to put on my oxygen mask and save myself first!
The irony in all of this is I’ve actually struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a kid but was never given the tools to know what it was or how to deal with it. Seeking professional help gave me the clarity that I was longing for and provided me with the courage to share with others. I share this truth gracefully as I know I’m not the only one that has experienced such struggles. Whether you’ve had this experience or not, it’s important to pay attention to loved ones and friends. First and foremost when they tell you something is wrong believe them. Here’s some other important factors to take into account when loving someone who is struggling with their mental health:
- Show and express concern without being judgemental
- Be observant and understand when patterns of behavior become abnormal or concerning
- Offer help with objectivity and realistic solutions
- Encourage self-care and wellness routines
- Most importantly, educate yourself on what your loved one is experiencing
- Lastly, if it’s costing you your mental health, don’t be afraid to step away from the relationship
My decision to open up about my mental health has never been for sympathy but rather to break the stigma and help inspire others who may be afraid to seek the help they need or have the courage to open up about it. The truth is many people are living and suffering in silence. While it is their right to not want to disclose what they’re going through, opening up is beneficial. The more people open up, the more other people will be able to understand the struggle is very real!
Renee_theblogger_: Give yourself permission to feel, as even the most uncomfortable moments are part of the process. It’s okay to break, but just don’t stay stuck there. Heal because your future depends on it!