Why It's Imperative We Speak Up About Mental Health
What is mental health? Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood and behavior could be affected.
I started dealing with my mental health when I was 12 years old. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on or why I felt the way I felt. It already is an awkward age to be at and getting to know a different part of me that was so dark made it even worse. Through those years, I began to experiment with self-harm. At that time, it was the perfect getaway “drug” for me, or so I thought. It was something I did not have to explain to anybody else because I had become so good at hiding it. I had become so good at hiding my depression, my anxiety, my loneliness and my self-harm, I wasn’t aware I could look for help.
Growing up with a mental health condition I did not know about, I got all of my “knowledge” from movies and the internet. I joined blogs from other countries, became a pen pal with people in the U.K. and saw all the movies that had to do with self-harm and depression. I was seeing so much of it through all types of media outlets, but I was not aware of what it really meant to struggle with depression or go through a rampage of self-harm. I wasn’t even aware of the consequences of everything that I was doing.
Fourteen years later, I am getting the help I need and I am grateful for the people who reached out to me to let me know it was OK to speak up and seek help. After everything I went through, I really wish I could have had that opportunity earlier on. Perhaps it could have made my life easier, enjoying the big and little things, being more self-dependent. But despite the things that could have been different, they made me the person I am today. However, if I can help just one person by sharing my personal experience and explaining how speaking up and professional help made a difference in my life, I always will. We may go through different processes and different life experiences, but the best thing will always result in speaking up.
Seeking professional help gave me a proper diagnosis about my mental health, better ways to cope with my addiction and my sadness and a security system I did not have. Not everyone will understand and not everyone will encourage you to seek help, but we need to put ourselves first, and then everything will start falling into place. Don’t be ashamed to say you struggle with a mental health condition or you take medication(s) to feel better. Just by seeking professional help and taking care of yourself, you are already doing something not even half of the people you know are doing — loving themselves.
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