“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close
Five years ago today, the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month, I began speaking out loud and writing about my struggle with my mental health.
Five years ago today, I decided too many of us were suffering in silence and I wanted to be part of the solution to that problem by being open about my everyday experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
Five years ago today, I set out on a journey to help at least one person feel less alone with my words.
Toward the end of last year, I found myself steeped in darkness, suicidal, and debilitated by depression, despite years of various treatments and periods of progress followed by backsliding. Then Mom asked me an important question one morning over coffee: ‘Have you ever thought, even though you do it to help people, that submersing yourself in mental illness and suicide and tragedy every day contributes to keeping you stuck?’
I did some real serious thinking over the following week, and despite the pain in my chest walking away from my passion for helping others through what was so terrifyingly stealing years of my own life, my message needed to change. My focus needed to change. My life needed to change. It was a last-ditch effort at a time when I was so exhausted with being depressed that the core of my being was giving up. Maybe mom was right.
I began writing about losing yourself, finding yourself, life instead of death, self-compassion instead of self-loathing, transforming your life, finding your truth, starting over. Things I began exploring for myself.
Five hours ago, I received an email response to my last post, On Rome and time:
I’ve saved this to read when I had time and this morning I sat down with it. And bawled. Thank you. You make me feel less alone.
To know that I can still help someone feel less alone without sacrificing myself and my mental health is a precious gift.
There are people who are in the trenches every day, not just during Mental Health Awareness Month, but every single day, doing the difficult work. Mental hospital staff working one-on-one with patients. Non-profit organization staff working tirelessly to fundraise and get more support, resources, and help into schools, communities, and workplaces. Advocates sharing their stories and going after legislature for prevention causes like constructing nets underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. I honor these people. I wanted to be one of them for so many years, but if I didn’t make it to age 30 or 35 I wouldn’t be helping anyone.
This month, I gently encourage you to join me in making a donation, no matter $2.00 or $200.00, to a mental health organization of your choice. To support those doing the work only certain people have the capacity for. Here are a few options:
- Crisis Text Line. Donate in honor or in memory of someone you love.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. During the month of May, your donation will be doubled.
- Mental Health America.
- The JED Foundation. Teens and young adults.
Your story can help one or more people feel less alone. The art of storytelling connects us all. Beautiful.
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