The good news is that people all over the world are beginning to embrace that having good mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Having poor mental health is a constant internal struggle. It does not give you a break. There are things you can do to keep it under control so you can function in your daily life, but sometimes it’s too much. It can hit you all at once and there doesn’t have to be a reason why.
Sometimes there is no pill, no person, nothing you normally enjoy that can make you feel better. When you feel this way, you need your loved ones, coworkers and bosses to understand and wholeheartedly agree that it is okay to not be okay.
There is still a mighty gap we need to bridge between physical and mental health. Why are they still viewed differently? Why is there still negative connotation with the word “mental health day”?
Physical Health is Tangible
While mental health can have physical symptoms and vice versa, physical health most often has tangible symptoms. You can go to the doctor and read a list of ailments that he can see are affecting you.
You don’t feel as bad if your boss can hear you coughing over the phone, or awkwardly pausing the conversation to blow your nose. Then you know that they are aware, without a doubt, that you are sick and are not able to perform your duties.
When your mental health declines, you don’t have a raspy voice. You may not sound any different. In fact, you may actually sound happy to compensate for how completely listless you feel inside.
This is the reason so many are taken aback when a well known celebrity, or a seemingly happy family member takes their life.
You have to have an honest and open relationship with your boss and others to communicate how you are feeling, and it should be accepted, no questions asked.
Your brain is viewed as a muscle that you can control.
Assuming positive intent, most people give unsolicited mental health advice while never experiencing it for themselves. “Well, why don’t you just do your favorite activity, then you will soon be better!”.
No, that’s not how that works. That’s not how any of this works.
When you are in the throws of depression, for a lot of people a major symptom is feeling absolutely nothing. To those who do not suffer with depression or mental illness, this sounds unimaginable.
How can a person who is normally passionate, outgoing, full of laughter and life go from that, to feeling nothing?
It is tough to explain if you have not experienced it first hand, but you should not have to explain yourself. You need acceptance, and in return peace of mind from those you love.
People with mental illnesses do their best to control their thoughts and actions, but sometimes they just can’t.
There are people in this world who have experienced mental health symptoms first hand, and people who have not. Some experience it through family members, parents, or children. These people are forced to educate themselves on how to help their loved one.
There are still people around who see mental illness as mental weakness. This frame of thinking is a direct result of lack of education, or unwillingness to accept.
To make this a world of understanding and compassion, education on mental illness, especially in the workplace, must be as important as hot button issues like sexual harassment.
Education can save lives.
There is No Easy Way
We cannot expect the thinking around mental and physical illness to change unless we are brought together. Compassion for your fellow human being must be found in order for humans to thrive on this planet.
If you want to know how to help someone with a mental illness that is struggling, just be present in their lives. So much can be accomplished through words and compassion.
In order to eliminate the stigma around mental health, we have to open our minds, educate, and love one another.
As always, if you or a loved one are struggling with mental health, or if you are a family member that needs support , please reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s helpline.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein