Stop Mental Health Stigma

Stop Mental Health Stigma

It's ok not to be ok.

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it’s a good time to round it off with this. Although we have come a long way and I think my generation has done a good job at encouraging others, there's still a long way to go.

For years I struggled with mental health issues. My best advice for someone struggling is to reach out. Being open and getting help is such an important step and is so freeing.

Mental illness is not just the stereotypical schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Mental illnesses range from things such as eating and mood disorders to personality disorders and addiction. More people suffer from these things than we realize….neighbors, friends, children, parents. Anyone can be struggling, so be kind.

Seeing a therapist, being on medicine or spending time in a mental health center does not make you crazy or weird or any other insult people come up with. Sometimes you just aren't feeling like yourself and need help getting back on your feet.

It is okay to not be okay. It is okay to ask for help when you need it.

Everyone has their own battles, some are just bigger than others and need a bigger army to fight.

The worst thing is hearing people say things such as “your life is so good, what do you have to be sad/nervous/upset about?” Sometimes people actually need help. Sometimes things go on behind closed doors that others have no idea about. Sometimes people can’t control their own brains. Sometimes people actually have hormone imbalances or brain trauma that causes them to have some sort of mental health issues. It isn’t all just made up for attention.

{I will say that there are definitely people that make up mental illnesses for attention, but that’s another problem within itself.}

Sometimes people experience negative situations that affect them in ways others can’t understand. For example, veterans and victims of trauma often suffer from PTSD.

Or maybe you were bullied as a child and you just let it slide, not everyone does that. Some people are repeatedly bullied and end up experiencing things such as body dysmorphic disorder and depression later on in life. You never know what else goes on in a person’s life. Be kind and lift each other up.

Another common problem in society that is toxic to mental health is sarcastically belittling mental illness. I’m sure you’ve overheard a snide comment like “everyone’s depressed now.” Mental health isn’t something to take lightly. If we spoke up and let our emotions out in healthy ways, maybe everyone wouldn’t be depressed.

It is people that belittle mental health that make it worse. You make those people who are on the verge of getting help revert and go back into their shell.

People that have never really struggled with anything don’t quite understand. They can’t really understand why sometimes you’re just sad, or mad, or just numb. You may get comments like "you're so boring" or "stop being so down." I’m so sorry that my mental health is an inconvenience to you. If I could just “get over it” don’t you think I would have by now?

I am such a big advocate for checking in on people. So many mental health issues can be so easily hidden. You don't need to go diagnosing people, but if someone seems a little off maybe check in on them.

A lot of mental illnesses come and go. They’re never really "cured", but many people will learn coping mechanisms that greatly improve their daily lives. A big part of successful treatment is having a support system.

That being said, please do not say “I'm always here if you need anything” if you don’t actually mean it. It is very toxic to someone with a mental illness if they try to open up to you and you shut them out.

Don’t be someone’s therapist if you aren’t actually a therapist. People aren’t always looking for answers or for you to fix their problems. Sometimes just an open ear and a shoulder to lean on is what is needed. If you reach out to someone and they aren’t ready to talk, don’t pressure them. Just be supportive from a distance. Sometimes just a simple “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you. Hope you have a good day!” message goes a long way.

{So many people have helped me along the way and many of them don’t even know it. If you have ever been a supporter or just given an encouraging statement, thank you so much!!}

Everyone deals with things in different ways. Let’s stop judging each other and labeling people for things that are sometimes out of their control. Nobody is perfect. Personally, I think everyone should take “mental health days” or have relaxation times. Everyone gets stressed and worn out. Take care of yourself and each other.

National Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255

National Substance Abuse hotline: 1-800-662-4357

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Military OneSource: 1-800-342-9647

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Resources

Cover Image Credit: Hannah Ward

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

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

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Being Ugly

What it means to me


Due to a series of ongoing events throughout my semester, I've reconsidered what it means for someone to truly be ugly. Though it is often used in terms of appearance, I do not see it as such-- now more than ever. Ugliness runs deeper than appearance-- it runs within one's soul and festers into other areas of one's life, particularly in their treatment of others.

I view ugliness as someone's conscious capacity and implementation of malice. Taking time and energy out of your day to hurt someone else, that's what I view as ugly. Some offenses are more minor than others, however, it is still a conscious effort to hurt or affect someone else negatively-- and that's the source of the problem. I truly wonder what causes that sort of behavior in someone, as I, along with most people, simply do not invest time or energy into hating or plotting against others. It seems like a full-time job.

I can theorize all sorts of reasons as to why someone would act this way: hate, jealousy, vengeance, etc. Yet, all of these reasons don't hit the root reason. It almost seems that some people are just innately ugly in their soul. This alludes to the timeless debate of whether one's personality is due to nature or nurture. Again, although our surroundings and environment do have a large effect in our behavior, that alibi only goes so far when multiple people are placed in the same environment, in the same situation, and only some are willing to cross moral boundaries in order to hurt the others. Just because an environment applies pressure to people, does not mean everyone is going to act out in malice, and it certainly does not give everyone an excuse to do so. Some people are simply conniving and, well, ugly inside.

If you have ever encountered people like this, I know from personal experience that it is such a drag. You have an enemy, essentially, whether you chose to or not, however based on their hatred towards you, they are now considered an enemy, a hater, and any other associated term. Know that they will do anything in their power to bring you down, even if it requires bending the truth and creating elaborate schemes, but you have to keep on doing you. Let them obsess over ways to bring you down. At the end of the day, their time and energy is being invested into bringing you down, while yours is being used to build yourself up. They will fall by default. So, keep your head high, act in grace, and make your money. They can sip on their Haterade and watch from below.

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