When the month of May begins, Mental Health Awareness Month also begins. Anxiety, depression, bipolar mood disorder, eating disorders and more affect millions of people in the United States each year. Only about half of those affected seek some form of treatment.
I interact with many different people who struggle with depression and other forms of mental health struggles. It’s hard to see loved ones struggling with a disease they can’t control, especially when all you want is for them to know how much you love and care for them.
While I haven’t really been public about it, I’ve been dealing with mild forms of depression, eating disorders, and anxiety for a long time. Recently, my eating disorders caused a crisis that I wasn’t necessarily looking for. Even though I don’t talk about it often, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
I am fortunate to say that I am much better now than in the past. Contrary to some opinions, having a “quick fix” is certainly not a problem.
Conditions like these don’t just “go away”. There is no age limit. Everything can go smoothly in life, but that doesn’t mean that these problems just disappear.
Struggles with mental health cannot simply be “swept under the rug” as many people seem to believe. They are real, they are there and they are important.
Don’t lessen another’s fear because you can’t see what they’re going through. The mind can be a beautiful place, but it can also be torture for many. You have no idea what anyone else is really thinking, so don’t think it’s acceptable to humiliate them for what they have to say.
Never call a victim of depression weak, for they are among the strongest people in the world. Every smile they make is a moment when they choose to let light into their lives. Every day they wake up is another day they choose to live.
Internal struggles are often much more difficult to deal with than external ones. Whether they are open with you about their pain or not, let the people you care about know that you are always there for them. Assure them they have a shoulder to cry on, even on their toughest days.
Sometimes all we can do is listen. Besides just offering a helping hand, also reach out with your heart. Listen to what they have to say. Listen to why they feel the way they feel. As much as you’d love to do for them, listening to what they have to say is one of the most important first steps.
Make yourself aware of mental health not only in May, but every day of the year. If you or someone close to you has mental health issues, remember, “Hard days don’t last — difficult people do.”