When I go to the gym to hit the pool (which hasn’t been
as often as it needs to be at all lately), there is a gigantic sign explaining CPR methods for children and adults on the wall of the pool room.
Defibrillators in schools and malls. Emergency phones on the highway every few miles. Emergency numbers on signs everywhere for you to contact the police if anything goes wrong. Call. Text. Instructions on where to go and what to do if a fire breaks out. Fire extinguishers.
No signs explaining what to do if someone is suicidal.
No numbers of hotlines or therapists or psychiatrists plastered in public places commanding us to call them for emergencies.
No emergency break glass here in case of mental health crisis.
These things – they are not part of our society. They are there, lurking, in the background, but they are not mandated to be part of our everyday scenery. Things we whisper about to other people when we need them because heaven forbid we talk about them out loud.
Breathing – that’s important. Of course it is, you say, because without breath, you die.
Without life, you die.
And when things get really really really bad because of our mental health and we feel all alone? We die inside. For us, we have no life and for some of us, death is the ONLY WAY OUT.
We don’t reach out because it’s difficult. We stay silent because THE WORLD TELLS US TO. It tells us that we are selfish. That we are capable of snapping out of it. That we should be happy and therefore we should just BE HAPPY DAMMIT and stop being depressed because it’s a fucking luxury. As if being depressed is something I’d rather be doing than oh, I don’t know, anything else?
What if, right NEXT TO THE SIGNS EXPLAINING CPR, there were signs explaining MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID? WHAT IF right under the #77 to reach the state police, there was a shorthand number to text if we were feeling vulnerable emotionally and struggling with a severe mental health episode?
WHAT IF WE MADE MENTAL HEALTH JUST AS NORMAL AS PHYSICAL HEALTH?
I’m tired of the bullshit. I’m tired of the stigma. I’m TIRED OF LOSING MOTHERS BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT OR ASSOCIATE WITH MOMS WHO AREN’T HAPPY.
WE can do better.
We NEED TO DO BETTER.
We can’t do it alone. We shouldn’t do it alone. We are raising up. We are casting a wider net. It’s still not where it needs to be – and we need your help. We need those who don’t battle our demons to speak up. To not let us flounder. To check on us when we begin to creep back under the covers.
It’s okay to not be okay but it’s not okay to not be okay alone. Reach out. Even if it’s just to a loved one or a trusted friend. YOU are worth it. We are ALL worth it.
Things you can do every day to help combat the stigma of living with mental illness:
Speak up. Share your story. Be honest about how you are feeling and the challenges you face.
Ask businesses you frequent if you can share promotional/supportive materials from organizations such as Postpartum Progress, Postpartum Support International, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Make mental health support accessible.
Share posts from various organizations battling for increased mental health awareness via social media. I am constantly sharing Lifeline’s posts on both FB and Twitter. Why? Because someday, it may just save a life. Suicide is not a bad word – it’s an emergency.
Get trained in Mental Health First Aid. Heck, make a day of it with friends. The more you know…. (Find a class here)
Bottom line – live your life in a mindful way of others and their feelings. Of course, keep your own in check as well, but you never know just how far a smile at a stranger might go one day.
In the meantime, visit MHA’s Screening site. Share the graphic below. Let people know they’re not alone.