Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Redefining Brave

Today is World Mental Health Day and, honestly, I've been struggling with what to write. My husband, Ryan and I worked on a piece sharing our story for our newspaper that published today and have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and love. Our goal was to help make a dent in the stigma, and I like to think we achieved that on a small scale. But, there is always more to do.

People have been saying we are brave for sharing our story. But why?

The stigma. 

Don't get me wrong, we appreciate the kind words, and we understand why it could be considered brave in our present society. But we want to create a conversation around mental illness that is just like discussing any physical illness. Because, as said so many times before, it's an illness. It's not something to be ashamed of, like so many people are. But trust me, I get it.

When everything first started with me, I was confused. I was sad. I wanted to hide. I was scared to discuss it with people because I didn't want the judgment.

The stigma. 

Eventually I began opening up with the rest of my family and some friends. And then, the writer in me took over. My old blog, Mama to Monkeys, that had began as your basic mom blog became an outlet for me to vent about my daily struggles. I eventually stopped writing, taking quite the hiatus. Then, inspiration. I realized how badly I missed writing, but wanted it to be different this time. I wanted to work to help break the stigma and hopefully encourage people to not be ashamed of their illness. To help them realize that they aren't alone and that it's ok to talk about. Because, it is.

One in four people will be affected with mental or neurological illness in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, according to the World Health Organization. In other words, you are FAR from alone. There are so many others just like you - suffering in silence. Please, friends - reach out. Talk to a friend, family member, counselor or psychiatrist. Email me. Anything to help free you from that feeling of loneliness that I once experienced. 

Break your silence, even if it's just to one person. Find a confidante. If you need help, find a doctor who will listen and advocate for you. If you are in danger of hurting yourself, please seek help, even if it means checking yourself into a psychiatric facility. They will keep you safe and get you connected with professionals that can help. You deserve to live a happy life. And if you think that's an impossible goal, I promise it isn't. 

So, is it brave to talk about mental illness? Maybe. Should it be? No. Break your silence, even if it's just to one person. All it takes is a few baby steps to end up making strides in normalizing the conversation. Because we're all in this together.


**If you'd like to read our article, you can find it here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2018/10/13/mental-health-my-familys-mental-illness-fight-hope-column/1604540002/

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Have questions, comments or just want to connect? Email me here or head on over to the community on my Facebook Page


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