According to National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health condition each year and 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17. I feel this means one important thing: we could all use the help.
By: Maranda Carlson
If you are reading this my guess is that you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month and that mental health is important to you. With everything happening in our current world I feel it is more important than ever to bring awareness to mental health and break down the stigma that has become associated with poor mental health.
Right now, we are all coming, what feels rather fast, out of a quarantine that we have been in for more than a year. We are going from spending a lot of time alone to suddenly being faced with the possibility of being surrounded by people, which in turn can amplify the anxiety and maybe even depression that many of us face, I know it has in me.
I have spent much of the past year alone or with very close friends. Now I am getting messages like “I can’t wait to see you!” Now, what excuse do I have to say I cannot hang out? I did the obligatory “I’ve been vaccinated social media post.” But I digress. I guess what I am trying to say is: You are NOT Alone!
According to National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health condition each year and 1 in 6 youth aged 6-17. I feel this means one important thing: we could all use the help. I have become very open about my mental health in recent years. I choose to speak openly and honestly about the years of depression I struggled with, because I wish someone had been open and upfront with me. I feel if they had, I might have realized that I was depressed and sought the help that I so desperately needed.
So, I ask you to do one thing this month: Share your story. Whether it is with someone who wants to hear it or with someone you believe NEEDS to hear it. Everyone deserves to know the feelings they are having are valid and acceptable. Sharing your story will let others know that you have or are currently feeling something similar, and they are not alone.
Now, I hear you. You are asking me to share my story, but what is yours?
When I was 19, I lost my father to an opiate overdose. It was sudden and unexpected, and I spiraled. I went into what I call my “dark time”, a depression that lasted over six years. During this time, I lost friends, family, and even myself. The only thing I gained during those years was weight.
I feel like I lost my 20’s because of the depression. I guess that is because I did to an extent. It helped that I had a strong support system, best friends who have been with me since middle school and at the time a boyfriend who had no idea what he was getting himself into. They were all great though and helped me in ways I do not think they will ever fully understand.
I feel a misconception with depression is that the person is always depressed. During those six years I did have good moments, and I treasure those bright occasions during my darkest time.
While I talk about the darkness, there were some sunshiny moments. I saw my best friend get married and have a baby. I saw close friends graduate with bachelors and post-grad degrees. I even saw myself graduate with both.
It was not until last year that I felt like I had done something that was solely for me. If I am being honest, I do not know if I was in the right state of mind when I decided to move halfway across the States for an AmeriCorps position. However, I would not trade that decision for the world. Moving from St Louis to Baltimore brought me to a new view on life, amazing friends, and a sense of home I have not had in years. That old cliché “There is light at the end of the tunnel” is true after all.
Thank you all for reading and I will leave you with a song that will make you feel less alone and realize that even celebrities feel like we do.