The first full week in October is recognized as Mental Illness Awareness Week. I think October is a perfect time to bring awareness to mental health. Many people often feel the weight of their stress whether in school or in work. It's important to remember that mental illnesses affect everyday people and just because you can't see the illness, doesn't mean that person isn't being affected by a mental illness.

October also happens to be the month where I started my mental health journey four years ago. I knew something wasn't right, but it took me a few months to come to the conclusion that I may be depressed. This also was about the same time that my mom was diagnosed with cancer, so that really didn't help the situation. Not only did it affect how I was feeling but it also became difficult when seeking help. The first therapist I saw seemed to completely connect how I was feeling to my mom's diagnosis. While the two did influence each other, I knew how I felt was still separate from what was going on with mom.

Everyone's journey and battle with their mental health looks different. You should never compare yours to someone else.

Make your mental health a priority.

Remember:

Your mental health is more important than your grades, GPA, or course schedule.

All of those things mean nothing if you are not healthy. You also won't be able to perform your best.

Your mental illness does not define you. You are so much more. You are an amazing human being with talents and a purpose.

If you need help, seek it out. If you see a friend that needs help, help them. It may cost you a friendship but their health is also more important.

Treatment takes time. One visit to a therapist is not going to fix anything. Like many things, treatment takes time. Sometimes it is trial and error to figure out what works best for your particular situation. Stick with it and trust the process.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking medication for mental illness. I mean you would take antibiotics if you had pneumonia, wouldn't you?

You are important and deserve the best care possible. Everyone does. So even though it isn't Mental Illness Awareness Week anymore I think we should make each day an awareness day. We should remember that mental illnesses are real illnesses that affect many of the people around us. Support them and love them. And please, make your mental health a priority.