The Truth Is "Mental Health" Has No Face
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Health and Wellness

The Truth Is "Mental Health" Has No Face

You're all too functional to be struggling.

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The Truth Is "Mental Health" Has No Face
Maddie Woodruff

Stepping off the bus at 8 years old, he's practicing what he's going to tell his mom about school today. "When will she see that I'm making this all up and realize that I still haven't made any friends?"

Mental Health?

Walking into class at 12 years old, she's counting her steps as she moves to her seat and realizing she'll need to take a long way around in order to reach exactly 37 steps. "It has to be exactly 37 steps. It just has to be."

Mental Health?

Opening a present from her mom at 15 years old, trying to think of an excuse to tell her mom of why she no longer wants that t-shirt she begged for. "If I wear this shirt, mom will be able to see the cuts on my arm."

Mental Health?

He's sitting in a coffee shop with his friends studying at 18years old for his college exams, while internally begging his friends to not ask him to turn his headphones down. "If I turn them down, I'll hear the voices in my head. I can't listen to the voices."

Mental Health?

Sitting at the restaurant at 20 years old, looking at the deep dish pizza and realizing she'll gain weight, but knowing that if she doesn't eat her friends will notice. "I'll just make myself throw up after dinner, and I'll skip lunch tomorrow."

Mental Health?

Stumbling around the party at 21 years old, talking to her friends about the hot guys and being too drunk to talk to any boys. "If I don't keep drinking, I'll cry again. I can't keep crying so I guess I'll keep drinking."

Mental Health?

Laying in bed at 35 years old, he's wondering if he'll ever be able to leave his bed and keep his plans. "I'll just have to call and cancel. They won't care if they see me anyway."

Mental Health?

Driving with her son at 44 years old, wondering if she'll ever be able to sit in the passenger seat of a car again without an internal panic attack. "The accident was over 10 years ago. I need to get over it."

Mental Health?

Listening to her grandchildren at 77 years old, and getting frustrated because she doesn't remember what they were talking about. "I know they didn't tell me that. I wouldn't forget that!"

Mental Health?

"When will she just calm down. It's not that big of a deal."

Guess what, she probably can't just "calm down".


Recently I wrote an article called "I Can't Be Depressed, I'm Too Functional", where for the first time I wrote about my past. I felt the raw words flow out of me like lava as I spoke about the first suicide note I had ever written, how every single day I continue to struggle with anxiety and depression. And how a conversation needs to be started and continued about mental illness and suicide. Before my eyes, I saw how tens, hundreds, then thousands of people were reading my article and later sharing it with their friends and families. People I knew and even people I didn't know began contacting me about my article, they wanted to thank me for sharing my story, for being a voice for others, or to even talk to me about what they had been through. But what has left me in a weird place since then was when some of them thanked me for being a face for mental health. I feel honored to be able to write for the Odyssey where my articles about mental health are shared on an immense platform, but I am just a small sliver of a group of people suffering from a mental illness.

May is Mental Health Awareness month, and I wrote this article to show you that there is no "face" for mental health. There is not an example or poster boy for what mental health looks like. The reality is, more often than not we have no idea who around us is suffering from a mental illness. Would you know if the boy that didn't have any friends was actually your child? Would you know if the boy hearing voices were your best friend? Would you know if the girl starving herself was your sister? Or the older women struggling to remember was your grandparent? If you had never read any of my articles, or I didn't tell you, would you know that in the cover photo of this article is my mom and I; my mom suffers from severe anxiety and PTSD, and I suffer from severe anxiety and depression? Would you know that the 21-year-old girl who was drinking too much to avoid depression was actually me six months ago?

Mental health is sadly something that nearly everyone will struggle with at some point in their lifetime. For some, it will be easier to talk to someone about their struggles, while others will be like me and will internalize it until they finally crack and are forced to let it out. Whether your mental health is altered for a situational purpose, or if it is due to something more permanent, it is still your mental health and it still needs to be taken seriously.


I can only dream that when you read this article something resonated inside of you. Whether you could personally relate to some of the hardships in this article or you know someone who does, I hope you all see that you are not alone. There are people like me out there who are ready to stand tall and help you through your hardship and through the fight to end the stigma of mental illness.


For more resources on Mental Health support visit: Mental Health America at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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