I’m just gonna get straight into the writing without an update for two main reasons: 1) Absolutely nothing important has happened in my life & 2) We have A LOT of work to get through!
So as we all know, I work around mental health all year long. However, due to the fact that it is MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 2016, I have a special week planned for all of you wonderful readers that keep me afloat during my tough times. You are all fabulous and I appreciate every single reply, response and kind message or thought you send in. It really does mean so much to me and to show you just how much, there will be a HUGE competition on my Facebook page at the end of the week- the cherry on top of a week full of wonderful reading!
This blog post is the introduction for this week. It will provide you with the fundamentals you need to go forward with your readings. So please, read carefully and open your mind. We all might learn something new this week!
A question that never seems to be answered is that of: What exactly is mental health? There is huge confusion around this for young people (including myself until recently) and there are many reasons why. One reason being that we associate mental health with what we see on television, in films, online: which is mental illness. Mental health is not mental illness. Mental illness is mental illness. A mental illness is something that a professional has diagnosed you with. Your mental health is how you are.
Let’s think of it like this: your mental health is very like your physical health. If you look after it, it stays well. With physical health, we drink water, we get enough sleep, eat right- we feel better about ourselves. With mental health, we voice our problems, look after our emotion and gut feeling, indulge and self-care, spend time with our loved ones and friends- we feel better. If we stop doing the things that keep our general health well, we won’t feel well. So the main goal of this mental health awareness, is not to teach people to feel bad and then get better. It’s to educate people in that they don’t have to be unwell to have mental health. EVERYBODY HAS MENTAL HEALTH. So cherish it, mind it, cater for it. Every individual journey is different, every person’s emotions and feelings are different. This is not about the sick. This is about the mind. It’s about maintenance.
Now, like your physical health, there are shock factors that can seriously affect your mental health. Like breaking a leg, a loved one can pass. Like hurting your head, rejection happens. And in this case, it’s about putting strategies in place that help us to recover- so that we can return to living our lives as normal, with that extra bit of sparkle and strength from the experience. And every single coping mechanism or resilience method is different based on the experience and the person. But despite the many differences that can be spotted, it is important to remind yourself always that you are not alone. Everyone has bad days. Everyone has bad thoughts. This does not make you insane, mentally ill or incurable. It makes you human. And bad things happen all the time to different people, you are not being picked on by the Gods and you are not a victim of the world. It’s just your turn. Tomorrow, it will be somebody else’s. And tomorrow, we can pick ourselves up and move on- as long as we know how.
By distinguishing then that we can not be diagnosed with depression or anxiety unless we’ve been to a doctor, we need to rethink how we incorporate these words into our language and really focus on what they actually mean, and just how hurtful they can be when thrown around without any knowledge of meaning. If you feel sad a lot, go to your doctor. The doctor will tell you if you have a chemical imbalance or not. THEN, you will know if your depressed or just going through some tough hormonal changes. These things are important to note because, unfortunately, we are not taught them. And a lot of us can be quick to use words like ‘anorexic’ or ‘depressed’ without an actual diagnosis. On the bright side, if you have not been diagnosed, you are not mentally ill (As of yet. If you are seriously concerned, see a doctor ASAP). Learn this now. It will make it a lot easier to tell when you need medical attention or a hot bath and a good book.
Mental hygiene, like mental maintenance, is just keeping your side of the street clean. Keeping your mind clean. Speaking about your problems with someone you trust, reaching out if you feel down, minding yourself, treating yourself. Making sure you’re drinking enough water and getting enough air. Little tips and tricks like these could potentially save your life. Letting them slip could end it. This stuff may seem basic, but you better believe it’s important.
By talking about our experiences and sharing them aloud, we are showing people that yes, it’s okay to be sad and no, that does not make me broken beyond repair.The stigmas surrounding mental health may have led us to believe that it is not okay to have these problems and that they don’t actually need to be addressed or spoke about. You do not have to be ashamed of your emotions. You cannot control them all the time, but you can help them along.
Within the media, especially American media, we see people suffer from mental illness and be immediately provided with medication for every single aspect of their issue. We think that that is the only way out of a negative emotion. We make links. WHICH IS NORMAL if that is all that we are being shown.
But within all of this misinformation, we forget that there are natural remedies. And we forget that the power of recovery is stored within our own souls.
Also inthe media, we see suicide as romantic. It’s not. It ruins lives. We see pretty girls suffer and it made ‘sexy’- another misrepresentation. Not only can males suffer too but in any case, it is just not sexy. We see the sexy boy swooping in and saving the nerdy girl from all of her psychiatric issues- another flaw in representation- it’s completely unlikely.
This generation have it tough. One of the main reasons being that half of our souls are invested in how other people see us (especially online) and we forget who we really are. This has increased issues with mental health, and especially the stigma surrounding mental health and illness. We need to learn, unfortunately all over again, how to actually be social beings. How to be open. And most importantly, how to really love and look after ourselves.
So mental health is just like physical health. In that it’s just as important and just as easy to maintain, break and recover. We are all worth it. So, let’s make this Mental Health Awareness Week WORTH IT. And let’s share our experiences.By sharing our experiences, we allow other people to relate. We can build strength and hope in our communities. And we can move forward from these horrible stigmas and allow the next generation to live free of emotional shame. Let’s be open. Let’s treat ourselves and learn who we really are and what we really like. The most important person in your life is you.
With all of this knowledge about what mental health is, exactly, and where we stand with our own mental health, we can now move forward to look more in depth at how to maintain our minds, how to keep our mental health GOOD, how to be WELL and, perhaps most importantly, how to stop falling into the trap of the societal standards and expectations.
Until next time,
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