Mental Awareness reminds you that it's always darkest before the dawn.
As the month of May begins, so does Mental Health Awareness Month. Anxiety, depression, bipolar mood disorder, eating disorders, and more affect millions of people in the United States alone every year. Out of those affected, only about one half seek some form of treatment.
I am very close to a lot of different people who struggle with depression and other forms of struggles with mental health. It is hard to see loved ones struggle from an illness that they cannot control, especially when all that you want them to know is how much you love and care for them.
Although I haven't exactly been very public about it, I've dealt with mild forms of depression, eating disorders and anxiety for a long time now. Recently, my eating disorders brought about a crisis that I wasn't necessarily looking for. Even though I don't talk about it very often, that doesn't mean that it isn't there.
I'm lucky enough to say that I'm much better now than I have been in the past. Contrary to some opinions, it's definitely not a problem that has a "quick fix."
Disorders like these don't just "go away." There's no age limit. Everything could be going smoothly in life, but that doesn't mean that these problems are simply going to disappear.
Struggles with mental health can't just be "swept under the rug," like a lot of people seem to believe. They are real, they are there, and they matter.
Do not diminish another person's anguish because you cannot see what they are going through. The mind can be a beautiful place, but it can also be torturous to many. You have no idea what another person is really thinking, so don't find it acceptable to demean them for what they have to say.
Do not ever call a victim of depression weak, because they are some of the strongest people to walk the planet. Every smile that they make is a moment in which they choose to let light into their lives. Every day that they wake up is another day that they choose to live.
Often, internal struggles are far more difficult to cope with than external. Whether they are open with you about their pain or not, let the people that you care about know that you are always there for them. Assure them that they have a shoulder to cry on, even on their toughest days.
Sometimes, the only thing that we can do is listen. Besides simply lending a helping hand, reach out with your heart as well. Listen to what they have to say. Listen to why they feel the way they do. As much as you would like to do for them, hearing what they have to say is among the most important initial steps.
Make yourself aware of mental health not just in May, but every day of the year. If you or someone close to you suffers from difficulties with mental health, just remember: "Tough days don't last -- tough people do."