Mental Illness Is A Secret We All Share

Portrait of a woman with black hair at Bethune Cookman University
William Stitt / Unsplash

“A lot of people said, when I chose to write about my depression, that it must be very difficult to be out of that closet, to have people know. They said, “Do people talk to me differently? And I said, “Yes, people talk to me differently. Things are different because now I know depression is the family secret that everyone has.”  Andrew Solomon

It’s mental health awareness month and I have a presentation coming up in May that I will be giving some high school students regarding mental health awareness and how it affects us. I am honored and extremely excited to share what I know and my personal experiences with mental health.

I want to talk to them about bullying, social media, and how there is no shame in taking care of your mental health and talking about your experiences.

Thinking about it now, I wish it didn’t just take a month for us to start caring about mental health and how it affects us all because, to be honest, mental illness is the secret we all share.

It’s the secret we all share when it comes to family and friendships. Someone knows someone who knows someone with a mental illness.

To be all the way real and break it down for you, mental illness can take lives. It almost took mine a year ago and I thank God I am still here, allowed to share my story and my journey with others.

It boggles my mind that mental illness is something we are all so afraid to talk about because, in all honesty, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Yes, it comes with the uncomfortable moments of psyche stays and family outbursts out of frustration, stigma from people who have no clue how to deal with mental illness, shame and embarrassment from yourself and so on and so forth.

The list is endless.

So I say, we stop shying away from learning about it and just be honest with ourselves about what we go through because you know what? I would rather talk about it and prevent a suicide than stay in the dark and say to myself, “If only I had known.”

I think when we are open to the conversation we make it okay for others to say, “Hey, I haven’t been ok and I need some help.” And that is something that makes a world of a difference.

As a Black woman who struggles and knowing the stigma that the Black community often has when it comes to mental illness, I can help so many others who have been affected but are too afraid to share their experiences out of fear and shame.

It’s time we make mental illness the conversation that doesn’t end, regardless of if we have a month dedicated to it or not. Because let’s face it, it is the secret we all share. TC mark

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