Mental Health Awareness

Before this month ends…which is TODAY, I want to bring awareness to Mental health illnesses.  So just in case you didn’t know, a few mental health illnesses are:  anxiety, dementia, a few types of depression, ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress, schizophrenia,  and bipolar.

As a black woman, I grew up never hearing about these illnesses in my household. It is kind of known in the black community that mental health illnesses aren’t addressed, until it’s too late. It’s one of those things where you’ll hear “oh you just have to pray about it and it’ll be fine,” OR “they need whooping” OR the famous line “that person is just crazy.” Sometimes people aren’t just crazy, they really need to seek help. In my opinion, a case that may be common but often overlooked is being raised by a single parent. A child could have had both parents in their household and then all of a sudden one parent leaves the house, father OR mother, and that could cause the child to be depressed. Then the kid could start becoming irritable and start acting out in school because of they are sad about the parent leaving the house and they don’t know how to cope. Then eventually that behavior expands to something worse and the behavior is more extensive and troubling; when all along, the child was suffering was depression from their parent walking on them. Even if it’s better late than never, past issues should be addressed so you can grow and learn from yourself.

Rwenshaun Miller, founder and executive director of Eustress Inc, was on The Breakfast Club on May 25, with his former doctor, Dr. Kendall Jasper, talking about his experience with a mental illness. He was hearing voices in his head and eventually switched to drinking instead of taking his medication and eventually was hospitalized. He says that being bipolar can be hereditary (biological)  or environmental (stress); and if there is a chemical imbalance then medication is needed.  He is now better and runs a non-profit organization (Eustress Inc), in which he shares his experiences and encourage others to openly about their mental health illnesses.

We don’t teach our people how to cope”–Rwenshaun Miller

I spoke to two ladies that have dealt with depression. One classmate of mine (who will name Capi) says she grew up with a chip on her shoulder and would be sad, frustrated and show anger; it was inherently a part of her. She would try to mask her sadness and pretend to be happy while in school and she actually started to believe she was happy. She says she would get in little funks every now and then and cry it out, which was therapeutic and then she’ll be good for awhile. She says she knew something was wrong when people around her seem happy and showed good emotion but she wouldn’t feel anything and would even become irritable towards things that use to excite her.  Capi wanted to be happy again and “feel” again so she seek help. She says “Somewhere in the ballpark of 350 million suffer from depression and you are NEVER alone. There is always ONE person in your life who care and will listen. Seek them. Nothing is bad enough to hurt yourself over. Don’t be afraid of therapy or medication. if it helps, it’s worth it.”  Her advice to people who may not have the illnesses, who can be a good ear to listen is “Don’t ever assume you know what people are going through. If something seems off, offer a listening ear. If they reject it, don’t give up on them. “

Another lady who I associate myself with, (I’ll name her Nicole), dealt with “situational depression” when her mother passed. She says her symptoms were consistent sadness and crying and it was hard for her to do simple day to day tasks. Nicole picked up weight and started having dizziness, chest pains and panic attacks. She accepted the fact that she had a mental illness when she would go to the ER, get blood work done and the doctors wouldn’t find anything wrong with her. Her advice for people who may have the illness is “consider therapy and be open to taking meds, sometimes chemically we have to get those happy chemicals moving again. Therapists help you create healthy ways to cope, change your perspective into more positive yet realistic.” Nicole says the  symptoms that you should look out for, either as a by standing or someone suffering are; consistent anger, substance abuse and isolation.

As far as if they both still seek therapy: Nicole says she is still in therapy even though she is better and her symptoms have went away but it’s just a precaution. Capi on the other hands doesn’t practice what she preaches. She finds herself too busy but she says that’s when you need the therapy the most when dealing with stress. She adds that ” There is something about revealing your soul to an unbiased third party, that feels really good”

On that note, I’ll leave you all with this: LISTEN. ENCOURAGE SUPPORT!

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