I have this thing with certain months and weeks that are dedicated to raising awareness about an issue because I think for a lot of people, it is all about hashtags on Twitter, but the meaning of what the awareness really stands for is lost to a lot of people.
When it comes to serious issues like Mental Health Awareness week, the meaning of it runs so much deeper for those who are affected by mental illness daily and for those, who have lost their lives because of it.
Last year, I was about this close to being dead.
We are in May and around this time I was in a psych ward struggling to survive and fighting for my life during a depressive relapse. Sitting here writing this article now, God must be real, because believe me when I tell you I thought I would be dead.
I was done, finished.
Depression came and wanted to take me with it.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced depression before, it is easy to look at others and judge and make assumptions.
But it is a serious illness that is equivalent to cancer, only it is all going on in your head, and for the people who endure this battle, they are trying their hardest, every single day to live the best way that they can.
But it is far from easy.
When I think of what Mental Health Awareness week really means, I think about people who have been hospitalized for wanting to take their lives and have had to be around other sick people, in an environment that preaches about recovery but is actually a ward filled with nurses who are far from sincere and only see you as a number.
I think about the shame and the stigma that is associated with mental illness and the overall heaviness that the discussion brings in general, whenever brought up in front of people who are ignorant.
I think about the stigma I have faced as a Black woman who struggles with depression and takes medication for it, because as some of us are aware, there is a huge stigma in the Black community, so much, that it compelled me to write about how suicide is not only a ‘white’ thing.
I think about the people who have been struggling right now and are contemplating suicide at this very moment because it is no secret that someone commits suicide every 40 seconds worldwide.
So when I think about the significance of mental health week, I think about it for the unedited truth that it is and to me, it is something that is far more than just a hashtag.
Weeks and months that are dedicated to a certain issue mean so much more than I believe they are advertised for.
Mental illness is something that I feel, like a lot of things can be sensationalized and glossed over because the realness of it may be too real for an audience who just wants to see the filtered truth and keep it moving.
No, not everyone has experience with mental health issues so it is safe to say the meaning of something like mental health week wouldn’t mean as much to them as someone who has personal experience.
But I will say this: Everyone knows someone, who knows someone with a mental illness and there is no shame in talking about it. Someone has a mother, an aunt, a brother, a friend, or a sister who is struggling or has lost their lives.
It runs deep in the family and is, in fact, the secret we all share.
Let’s treat mental health awareness week for what it really is, and dissect its truth.
We all struggle and that’s what it truly means to me.