Real Talk: Part One

Before I begin this article, I want to warn you as a reader that this topic will not be as light and fluffy as ones I have written before. There isn’t anything funny about this subject. There is no list as to how to make it better. There’s only a truth and how we as a society should be handling it but are failing to do so. This subject affects everyone, even if it doesn’t directly affect you. It could apply to anyone. It could be your parents, your boss, your classmates. It’s anyone and everyone you least expect to be affected by it. This subject is serious, and if we don’t recognize that beyond all of the memes that joke about this, it will only get worse.

The subject I’m referring to is mental health.

Mental illnesses take many forms, so it’s difficult to talk about every single illness on the broad spectrum. I won’t use a full article to narrow in on every single illness. That isn’t to say we can’t talk about what it is and what we can do create a better society where we try to have an understanding with one another. Not only would it create a safer place for people to talk about mental illness, but it would also bring people closer together if we tried to understand one another.

October was Mental Health Awareness Month. Our campus was filled with events to talk about mental illness. From meetings, to talk about depression, and anxiety to bulletin boards filled with information for us to read when we got the chance, the notice was there. But my question is how much do we actually care outside of the “everyone pay attention to mental health” call in October?

I’m sure you’ve heard the dictionary term for mental illness. According to Mayo Clinic, the term is specifically stated as disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. But this is only a dictionary term created by medical professionals.

Mental illnesses are a constant battle.

Every day is a new challenge for somebody with these conditions. It’s a choice between acting like nothing is wrong and staying indoors where everything seems safe. It’s the roar of voices inside your head that tell you negative things when the day has been overall positive. It’s fighting instincts to run away and hide when the slightest inconvenience hurts. It’s saving your tears when the people you care about most push off your problem as if “you don’t know what you’re talking about” because “you’re too young to be this sad.” It’s the pressure of everything you need to do piling on top of your shoulders, and no matter how much you accomplish, it overwhelms you to the point of giving up.

 I’m saying this from experience.

I fight my own battles with my own conditions. I try not to let them get in the way of my daily life. I do everything I can to keep up with my studies, my homework, my friends, and my family. I have exercises to remind myself that I can make it through whatever is troubling me at the time.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have difficulty staying positive.

 I’m not the only person who goes through this.

 In my own experience, even though I have people I can talk to about my condition, there are many people I don’t feel safe talking with about this on a personal level. With the memes that joke about depression and the people who brush the problem off as “just in our heads”, I don’t feel comfortable to talk to those who make these a laughing matter. This subject isn’t anything to laugh at. People are suffering, and we should dedicate more than just a month to this serious subject.

Mental illness is not something to shove to the side, nor is it for us to ignore.

 In my next article, I’m going to talk about how I’m able to talk to those who do care about mental illness. It’s not perfect; nothing about mental illness is that way. But maybe if I take a stand and talk about this, maybe I can get others to talk about it too.