May is a month full of raising awareness for a variety of diseases and illnesses. All of them are extremely important; however, one that is close to my heart is mental health.
People tend to skirt away from this subject due to not fully understanding the issue. Mental health is as important as physical health. When someone is suffering from mental anguish, whether it’s from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or another form of mental illness, it’s severely hard to function.
I have dealt with anxiety and depression in my own life. The feeling of not having control and over-thinking every single detail can be overwhelming. I tend to question everything I do, as well as what others say or do. My brain will not turn off at times.
I suffered from depression at the age of 14 and felt hopeless, constantly tired and as though there was a hole in my stomach that I couldn’t fill. When anxiety and depression combine, it can feel like the world is against you. All of the joy depletes from everyday living, and troublesome thoughts consume your peace of mind.
Depression and anxiety are lonely diseases. Even those who appear to be the happiest or most successful can be dealing with internal turmoil that others don’t realize. People try to cope in a variety of ways.
Some self-medicate through alcohol or drugs, while others may revert to self-harm. Most people simply continue to not feel like getting out of bed, showering, eating doing the dishes, spending time with friends and family or doing the activities they once enjoyed. This is not the way life should be.
Life is a series of ups and downs. The trick is to fully appreciate those moments of happiness and continue moving forward during times of sadness or heartbreak. The sun will continue to rise and shine bright even after the darkest night. No matter what “it” is, it will get better.
Suicide is said to be the final symptom of depression. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is help and support available and there is no shame in asking for help. In fact, seeking help for a problem that is affecting your mind, spirit and body is one of the strongest things a person can do.
I support antidepressants and other medications used to treat mental health, and I fully support attending therapy to provide the personal growth needed to leave behind oppressing feelings. Understanding and empathy are two of the most priceless gifts we have as human beings.
A kind word or smile could change someone’s entire day from negative to positive. It takes little effort or energy to spread kindness. We never know what another person is going through. Be the light in the darkness. Listen to someone when they express the fact they’re struggling and be there for them.
We get by with a little help from our friends, therapy and perhaps medication, and that’s OK.
Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.