May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental illness has become a major deal over the years; Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences mental illness within a year’s span. Mental health issues have even become more common in youth and young and adults as well. By the age of fourteen 1 in 5 youth have developed a mental illness. African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health issues. I am twenty one year old I struggle with depression and anxiety. I want to share some facts and my story to hopefully help someone else.
Mental Health: a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
Mental illness: refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior.
Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Depression: feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
I always felt like my emotions were out of whack and that there was something that just was not right. When I first was told I had depression and anxiety I was in denial. I told myself that they had no idea what they were talking about. As time progressed I realized that the doctors had been right. It is common in the African American culture that mental health conditions are misunderstood because the lack of knowledge. African Americans tend not to discuss mental health issues or seek treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with it. The seriousness of mental illness gets downplayed a lot. I know it’s been times when I have tried to explain what was going on with me and I got told “girl you know I’m bipolar too” “you just crazy” “just pray you will be okay” “mental illness is just a mind thing”. When someone who suffers from a mental illness tries to talk to a loved one about what is going on with them and their emotions get downplayed it makes them feel worse. I personally think to myself “well maybe I am just crazy, maybe I’m just tripping”.
When you are young and are dealing with a mental illness it is so much harder. I feel so out of place sometimes. I try to do “normal” things and act as if nothing is wrong. My emotions and actions are so confusing for me to understand so it’s almost impossible to get anyone else to understand. When I first made the decision to accept my flaws (depression and anxiety) and was vocal about them, I received so much positive feedback from so many strangers; but what about my friends and family? Opening up to the people close to me is so hard because they just DO NOT get it. Nobody takes it serious. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “Tay Tay is just in one of her moods”. What people fail to realize is, sometimes it is hard to control those “moods”. Manic depression is when your moods alternate, you have an abnormal high which is called mania and the low lows which is the depression state. Because of these mood swings you can be said to have bipolar disorder, I personally haven’t been diagnosed with that so I don’t want to say that I have bipolar disorder. In mania, your thinking, judgment and social behavior is affected. A lot of unwise decisions can occur during mania. During my mania phases I feel like I constantly have to be doing something, going somewhere, buying something. It’s like I am happy but I’m just too happy and it can become exhausting. One night during my mania phase I went to the store at midnight to buy cleaning supplies to clean the bathroom. My lows on the other hand are low, I don’t want to eat, drink, clean, or do life in general. There have been so many days that I just felt like I was floating and living in a dream, just going through the motions because that’s what I was supposed to be doing. I have called out of work sometimes because I just could not move or get up, I just didn’t have it in me.
My anxiety causes me to over think literally everything. I have cried over things that happened five years ago and beat myself up wondering why did it happen and what could have I done differently. I quadruple think everything all the time. Anxiety can make you feel physically sick, like ill. Back in November for my school’s homecoming me all my friends “turned up” and I felt so bad for being so lit. I didn’t get into any trouble nor do anything out of the ordinary I just felt bad for some reason. The Monday after the weekend’s events I tried to get up and go about my normal day, well I couldn’t. I physically felt sick, I couldn’t drive, eat, and when I was walking I barely felt my legs. I was vomiting and everything, all because of my anxiety, over thinking a situation that was not that serious. I beat myself up about it for weeks.
Families and friends can help and make a serious difference in someone’s life who is dealing with a mental health issue. Nobody should ever feel as if they are alone in life, especially someone dealing with a mental health issue. That is when suicide comes into play; over 41,000 people commit suicide each year. Everyday there is an average of 5,240 suicide attempts by people in 5th through 12th grade. Netflix recently released a series called 13 Reasons why; it’s about a girl named Hannah who committed suicide and left tapes explaining why she did it. When I finished the last episode I cried and thought about it for a couple days. I have thought about suicide before, I felt alone, like nobody cared. So many times I have felt like it wouldn’t matter if I was on this earth or not. One thing that has always kept me sane is my relationship with God. God helps me get through these feelings. I do not want to scare anybody because I will never attempt to commit suicide now. I just wonder about the people who do not have relationships with god and do not have anyone there to tell them they matter and that they are loved.
If you have anyone in your life suffering from a mental illness, or show any signs and symptoms, please please are there for them and let them know that they matter, you love them and support them. If you are reading this and you are the one dealing with a mental illness YOU MATTER, AND I LOVE YOU. If you have any questions or concerns or just need to talk, go on my contact page and send me an email.
Thanks for reading. #breakthestigma