May Is Mental Health Awareness Month, But We Need To Do More Than Just Be Aware

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month, But We Need To Do More Than Just Be Aware

There is a stigma surrounding mental health and the illnesses and although we may be aware, we need to do something more.

May doesn't just bring flowers from April flowers, it is the start of warm weather, the final passage into summer, and the last stretch of the school year. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. With the end of the semester brings stress. So much stress that it causes people severe anxiety, from test to the thought of not getting the grade they want in their classes.

Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Lots of college students struggle with maintaining their mental health. And for good reason. Most traditional college students are full-time students, while also balancing a job, being involved in different extracurricular clubs, trying to stay healthy keep off any extra weight you've gained, and also trying to have a social life. It can be too much sometimes. Especially when it feels everything needs to happen all at once. Life can get overwhelming.

See also: I Am A Highly Functioning Human Being, But I Still Struggle With Anxiety

Even those who aren't in college struggle with their mental health. Millenials, especially women, are struggling. For women, this is caused by violent and abusive relationships and social media. It's hard not to compare the beautiful woman in the Instagram photo or celebrity with her handsome husband. We all have our insecurities and wish we could be this or that. We need to recognize that people go through things in their life that are hard. So being aware that everything is not okay is just the beginning.

Awareness is trying is understanding that something is off but trying to help them in whatever way they can.

You can't stop there. Some bad days where your mental health isn't doing so hot can stem from just having a stressful day. It can also be genetics or just personality traits. So instead of putting someone down for being a bit moody, try to understand where they are coming from.

There is a stigma surrounding mental health and the illnesses and although we may be aware, we need to do something more. You can try to understand what mental illness is by educating yourself, have an open conversation about what is going on, and know that the illness doesn't define them. It makes up who they are and who they are is perfect. The stigma that society creates causes a self-stigma that causes the person to doubt themselves and feel like they aren't enough.

Let them know that they are certainly enough. That no matter how they feel, there will always be someone there.

May is not the only month where we should be more aware of our own mental health. It should be a year-round awareness that we check every day. It's okay to take a "mental health day". Everyone needs one. Stop stigmatizing our well-being as a negative. But know that it is essential to how we live life.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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