It’s no secret that I am passionate about spreading the word on mental illness. Why? Because throughout my own recovery, I have uncovered a lot of the truths as to why I was always running away from myself and into the grips of addiction.
The scariest part about mental illness is how many people are walking around with no idea that what they are battling has a name and a diagnosis. So many people are thinking that they are alone in this world, so they suffer in silence because they believe it’s easier to keep it to themselves. Well, it’s not, and we all need to start talking about this because ignoring the problem, is never going to solve it…which leads me to my first reason:
1. Ignoring Mental Illness will not make it go away.
How long are we going to pretend that there aren’t people suffering? And to those of us that are suffering, how long are we going to pretend that we are okay? Owning up to the parts of us that we had no control over is not a weakness. Just because we cannot touch it, hold onto it, or point to an exact location of where it hurts, does not make it any less real. Talking, opening-up, and having conversations about what debilitates us is the only way we will ever have a chance at normalizing mental illness, and what it means to live with that.
2. One in five people in the United States live with a mental illness.
Read that again. One in five! And that is just in the United States. Mental illness does not have a face, nor does it stand out among the strangers you see each day. Just because someone appears to have it all together, does not mean that they are not falling apart on the inside. We need to treat each person we encounter with respect, regardless of if they have mental illness or not. Everyone deserves kindness. Not just those who are suffering.
3. Suicide is on the rise.
There is one death by suicide in the United States every 12 minutes. In the world, that number is changed to one death every 40 seconds. That is not okay. Period. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US at all ages, and worldwide, it is the second cause of death among those aged 15 – 24 years. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. These are alarming facts and figures. This is why it is so important to talk about these things!
4. Everybody struggles in their own way.
Maybe mental illness is not something you have ever had to face, deal with, or learn how to cope with. For that, I consider you extremely lucky. Just because you may have lucked out in that department, does not mean that you have not struggled in other ways. A huge part of being human is learning how to survive through our struggles, and strive to get a little bit better each day. The moral of this story is that no matter what you are facing, it’s important to talk about it so it doesn’t manifest into something potentially much worse.
5. Stigma is a bully that nobody needs in their life.
We need to change the way we associate mental illness with everyday tasks. For example, saying to someone, “I am so OCD when it comes to cleaning” is belittling the illness of what OCD actually is. We are further stigmatizing the way people view it, and it is not an actual representation of what people go through when dealing with OCD. There are many examples I could list where mental illness has been used incorrectly in context. Saying “I would rather kill myself than _____” in reference to not wanting to do something at that moment is a harmful way to describe you not wanting to do something. Suicide is not something to joke about, and we must be more careful in the way that we word our thoughts about something.
6. It’s okay to ask for help, and receive it.
I cannot say this enough: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is the opposite. Accepting that you are hurting, and seeking out the help for what hurts you is a strength. Nobody should have to live in pain, and the sooner we acknowledge that we do not have to do this alone, the sooner we can begin to heal and learn how to cope.
7. Mental illness is not cured when told to just “Get over it.”
It is hard enough as it is to fight a battle with ourselves every day, and simply being told that “It’s okay” or “It could be worse” will not cure what it is that we are feeling. One of the main reasons why people don’t speak up about their mental illness is because of the kind of responses they get from those who have never had to deal with it. Yes, there are many ways to cope and heal over time, but just “getting over it” is not one of them. If the solution to mental illness was that easy, I would not be writing this article in the first place. It’s a daily battle; not a cry for attention.
8.What’s easy for one person, may not be as easy for someone else.
There are so many kinds of mental illness, and factors that come in to play when talking about the severity of them; but nonetheless, they are all worth talking about. There is no winner for having the most illnesses, nor is this a competition that anyone signed up for. Regardless of the severity of what you must battle, getting the help you need is the most important thing.
9. You may not understand it, but the least you can do is listen!
Sometimes, what helps people the most is just having someone who listens. Do not listen with the intent of responding. Listen with the intent of trying to understand what is not so easily understood. Educating ourselves on these topics that are not going away, is what we all need to get a little better at. Also, know that if someone has come to you to talk about their problems, understand that this is extremely hard for them to do in the first place.
10. We are all just people after all.
Aren’t we all just trying to figure out how to survive the game of life? We are all uniquely flawed, and wired a bit differently. Let’s not forget that we are all in this together, and that we have all had to face our fair share of issues. Being a human is a challenge in and of itself. Let’s not make it harder than it has to be.