October 10th is recognized as World Mental Health Day.
It is an international day that attempts to bring awareness to mental health and mental illnesses.
In honor of this international day, I posted a photograph on my personal social media sites that highlighted my semicolon tattoo on my right wrist. It was posted with the following caption: "October 10 is World Mental Health Day. Show some love to the people that need it most. You are beautiful, you are strong, you are intelligent, you are courageous, you are important, you are radiant. Don't ever forget how much you're worth and don't ever give up. It's okay to not be okay but I promise life is worth living."
In the English language, a semicolon is a grammatical punctuation mark that indicates a pause between two thoughts that is longer than the typical common.
On a much deeper level, the semicolon represents that the author could have ended the sentence with a period but instead chose to continue on. The semicolon project recognizes that the author is you and the sentence is your life.
The semicolon project encourages people to draw semicolons on their wrist in solidarity for those who have suffered and continue to suffer with mental illnesses such as (but not limited to) anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Some people have taken to getting permanently tatted with the meaningful symbol of mental health awareness that has begun to grow in popularity.
I have used the Odyssey as a platform to voice my opinions and express my concerns regarding mental health/illnesses and it's needed awareness before. The negative stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and disorders needs to be addressed in our society. We need to take a stand and make a change.
However, this particular article, I attempt to bring self-awareness to my readers. So many people believe that mental health only regards those that struggle with illnesses and disorders. Although these particular issues need to be addressed in our society, mental health is more than a diagnosed mental disorder or illness. Mental health expands much more beyond that. It affects every single person on this earth. Mental health can also be recognized as the well-being of one's mind.
We live in a world where people are fearful of being vulnerable, asking for help, and admitting that they are not okay.
I've been there. I've been scared to admit that I need someone to lean on. I've been afraid to say that I am not okay. I have refused to be vulnerable with the people that matter most.
Today, I write to implore everyone reading this article to take the time they need for themselves. To ask for help when they struggle. To be vulnerable, even if it makes you feel sick to your stomach. To take some time off when you need it. To go to bed instead of studying those extra 30 minutes, because you need to sleep. To pray when you are in doubt and fearful of the future. To talk to a friend when you are struggling with keeping up. To say no when you are too stressed to possibly do anything else. To forgive yourself when you fall or fail. To take the day when you need to rest and re-charge. To be kind to your body when you are pushing it to such impossible lengths.
To recognize that it is okay to not be okay; there is nothing wrong with that.
There is nothing wrong with needing help. There is nothing wrong with needing to take a break. There is nothing wrong with confiding in a friend, or seeking help.
I stand in solidarity with those who suffer from mental illnesses and disorders.
I recognize that mental health needs more awareness.
I know that in order to flourish, our society needs to have an open dialogue about mental health and break free from the negative stigmas that shackle everyone to the concept of being fearful to admit we are not okay.
I pray that the romanticizing of mental illnesses, panic attacks, insomnia, and so on cease to exist because there is nothing fun or beautiful about these struggles and this strife.
I want everyone in my life, reading this article, and living, breathing on this earth to realize that mental health affects them more than one is willing to admit.
I fight for the day that people can recognize mental health involves more than diagnosed disorders and concerns every single person with a mind and a body- mental well-being is an important aspect to our society that we are currently lacking.
I hope that one day we can reach a point where open dialogues about mental health, illnesses, disorders, and wellness can be had without shame.