Today is World Mental Health Day. Social media pages will impress the importance of awareness and support. As a survivor of mental illness, I appreciate the attention these few days throughout the year bring. We have mental health day, suicide awareness, depression awareness, and anxiety awareness, to name a few. While the social media platforms will flow with support, do the warm bodies behind the screens do the same?
If 1 in 4 of us will deal with a mental illness at some point in life, then look around and take notice. Someone in your tribe or circle is suffering right now. A friend you’ve not heard from in a while, or a relative who passes on family gatherings. Imagine this, the person who struggles may be the bright and cheery leader of the pack. That person everyone else turns to in a time of need may be hurting and afraid to step out and tell anyone.
Why? What harm is there in admitting my brain is broke? The perfect rhythm of those chemicals that bring our mood and responses together is off. Did you know it is possible to smile on the outside while sobbing on the inside? Have you ever heard, “You seem fine.” Then walked away from the conversation you tried to have because they just don’t get it?
I understand the ‘you seem fine‘ comment. I am a strong warrior with a voice and passion for others like me, living with mental illness. However, those around me tend to forget I suffer. My faith and His strength are the force behind my powerful march through life. Many on the outside would never think I have bipolar or anxiety. They see a bold Christian woman. I’ve been called inspiring, encouraging, and authentic. I am all those things, but I still struggle, stumble, and fall. I am not alone, we are many, and we are living well!
So here is to another day that brings awareness to the fight of mental illness. Thank you. Thank you for noticing the lost faces of those on the margins, hiding in fear. Afraid of a society that fears mental illness! Worried about the conversations that need to take place, medication they can’t afford, therapy or counseling they cannot find, deductibles they cannot meet, and family and friends they cannot trust.
For all of you out there managing, getting by, waking up every day, working that full-time job, going to school, or being that excellent parent who maintains a home and family- YOU ARE AMAZING! Please remember to keep fighting. Your life matters, and you are loved. A stranger on a screen understands your fight, and I admire you.