May is National Mental Health Awareness month. This is something that speaks to my soul very strongly because I struggle with mental health illnesses and so do many of my friends and family members. I, myself, have anxiety disorder, PTSD, bi-polar – type one, and OCD.
Growing up, I didn’t know what was going on inside my head. I thought something was wrong with me. I must be broken, defective. My moods changed without warning. My thoughts raced and I couldn’t get them to slow down. The littlest thing could set me off. I would cry and not always know why. I’d be extra motivated one day and then not at all the next. I was overly anxious and paranoid. I’d feel physically ill when things became too much to handle. No one understood, most especially myself. (I’m still dealing with these things, but I’m informed now and have the support system that makes dealing with all of this easier.)
On top of that, I was molested and physically abused by my mom’s ex, mentally abused and neglected by my father, and my mom retreated into herself, not knowing what to do or how to react, how to help me, especially when she needed help herself. I was placed into a foster home and went to a few and a group home within the span of a few years. I was hit on by one of my foster brothers in one of the homes to the point I ran away. Things weren’t great.
I wanted to die several times between my pre-teen years and even into my 30’s. I wrote notes, made preparations to leave those I loved, and kept it all to myself. Only those who knew me real well even had a glimpse of how much I struggled and even many who thought they knew me, they didn’t realize how much I was hurting. I either come off as really happy go lucky and people have no clue that I hurt at all or I’m the overly dramatic one, just seeking attention. I can be both and sometimes something entirely different.
Growing up, my issues and I were either ignored, treated like something to be shunned, or like everything was just some way of being noticed. Mental health illnesses and abuse are no laughing matter. They are also not things to be ignored or made light of.
I will always speak out about mental health illnesses, suicide prevention, and abuse. I didn’t always have support and in those times is when things were at their worst. Having that support now makes a huge difference. So, I want to reach out and tell all reading this, if you struggle, you don’t have to go through any of this alone.
There are 24 hour hotlines, shelters, and other resources. Also, I’m here to listen, if you feel comfortable coming to me. You do not have to deal with this alone. No one can live your life for you, but there are people out there who can be by your side as you try to push forward, heal, and get help.
If you see any warning signs, if you even suspect someone you know is hurting, please reach out. We may not always ask for help. Be the light for those who may feel lost in the dark and have forgotten there’s still hope…