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May Should Not Be the Only Mental Health Month

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I can still remember standing in that line.

The store was busy and the lines were long. I kept looking around to see if there was anyone I knew standing close by. Someone that might hear the conversation that was going to take place.

My turn was next. I kept thinking to myself: what would they think of me? What did I think of me? How did I end up in this place? I’m supposed to know how to “fix” this; make it better. After all, it’s what I do all day for others, so why was I finding it so hard to do it for myself ?

I was terrified to hand over that white piece of paper because maybe for the first time in my life, I had to finally release control of something that has had a hold of me for so long.

As I told myself you’ve got this, opposing feelings of doubt and hope began to flood my mind. Then, those words. “Have you ever taken this medication before?”

It took me three decades to seek help for my anxiety. I was 40 years old when I first uttered the words “I need help,” and it took hitting rock bottom to be able to accept I couldn’t do this on my own.

The stigma surrounding mental health and medication is tragic. We live in a world that shames us for having the courage to ask for help; it is expected we should just move on and get over it. As a mental health professional for the past 17 years, it saddens me to watch people sink deeper into darkness because they are afraid to speak up.

What so many people don’t realize is that many of these “conditions” are not curable; we will co-exist with them for the rest of our lives. They will occupy space in our brain and compete for attention with everything else in our life.

Why are we so afraid to talk about something that impacts so many? Why are we measuring our worth against other peoples opinions? We would never shame someone for seeking help for their blood pressure or diabetes, so why are we being judged for seeking treatment for our mental health?

I think I’m finally just over it. I’m over the fear of someone finding out and I’m done silencing my voice. It’s time to move on in a different way. It’s time that May is not the only month for Mental Health Month; every day of every month should be about acknowledging and normalizing mental health. My biggest fear is that as soon as we turn the calendar to June 1, all of this awareness will disappear and the courageous stories of so many will be forgotten.

We must keep the momentum going and continue to put awareness at the forefront. It’s time to stop silencing our voices and living in fear. Like Brene Brown so eloquently stated: “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.”

Follow this journey on FitMom.

The Mighty is asking the following: What was the moment that made you realize it was time to face your mental illness? What was your next step? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 26, 2016
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