Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month (Insert some appropriate emoji).
 Happy? Was that the right word to use? Scratch that one out. Quickly now.

May, a month filled with bright evenings, beautiful blooms and Summer dreams. However, for many May signifies something much deeper. A time for the exploration and acceptance of mental health issues, so yes, Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!

Please do not choke on your coffee, I am serious. For once take a minute to stop seeing your mental health as a negative entity. Remember we all have mental health, but like our physical health it is entirely individualistic. Someone once described their mind to me as the real-time personification of a Dementor, which was ironic as J.K. Rowling based said character on Depression. The darkest kind of irony, indeed. Sadly, in our world there is no magic spell that shields us from such darkness, and when you are in the depths of a mental illness even the happiest of memories can’t bring your mind back to you. So, if we view our minds as such dark places how do we ever expect to help ourselves, and others, find their way through? Stop and reflect. A single moment of clarity can help pave the way for change.

However, out of an Irish mouth words such as depression and anxiety are often met by a wet bar of soap, ready to scrub the demons from your tongue.  Because we all know Mary down the road that suffered with her ‘nerves’. Think about it when did you ever respond to such a statement with, ‘Is she OK?’. I know I never did, to acknowledge someone’s struggles was to accept its severity and make our own avoidance the most real issue of them all. Sure, if they were only her ‘nerves’ she was probably just a bit weak of character.

Awful isn’t it.

 You accept what is normal growing up, and Ireland can often be a giant grassy mat that is mountainous from all the issues we sweep below the surface. I know as a teenager when my mental health was less than healthy I resisted seeking help because who would ever hire me, love me or accept me. 16 years old and worrying about how becoming B that suffered with her ‘nerves’ would mean I could become Mary that no one cared enough about to simply ask was she OK.
So, stop, take a minute to look at yourself, your circle and think about the people you hear whispers about. When you pin a green ribbon to your lapel and call yourself a mental health advocate, look at yourself with open eyes. How often do you ignore the warning signs that someone needs help?

I am sure by now your mind has gone to ’13 Reasons Why’, where the main character exuded signs of depression but no one noticed, and those who did appeared not care. I have many opinions on the show (Of which I will save for another time), but one thing I did feel was a positive element of the series was the highlighting of people’s inability to see past their own shoelaces long enough to see the suffering of someone right in front of them.  

So, this is not an attempt to guilt you into feeling bad for not being a clairvoyant, but if you choose to wear the green ribbon this month make sure you are contributing. If there is one thing I know first-hand it is the guilt of missing out on the signs that a friend is suffering, but more painful than that is knowing but not being able to save them. If you were a noughties Tumblr user, the ideology of needing to be ‘saved’ when suffering with a mental health difficulty was something that cut through my stone exterior and made my heart ache. My heart aches thinking of it now. If there was anything I found triggering about the aforementioned TV series, it was the moments of guilt inflicted upon an innocent person in their tapes. 

We all have moments of needing to be saved, of wanting someone to care enough, to simply care. But if you find yourself sinking into those sandpits of despair that is when you need to grab the lifebuoy that presents itself in your mouth. Let your tongue be met by the wet bar of soap, because after the bad taste fades there is a freedom in the acceptance of your own struggles. They become a side note on the novel of your life, where you are the head editor and you decide if they make it into the final cut.

So, get yourself a green ribbon, superglue it to your lapel and take your earphones out. More often than not when someone reaches out to you they just want your individual support, never brush them off and insist they seek out medication or a counsellor.  Trust the needs of the person, be present and mindful. The need to talk versus an emergency is clear, all you must do is open your eyes.

So, think about it. Make it a happy month. Insight change.


Happy Mental Health Awareness Month.

Learning to judge less and live 'A Judge Less Life'
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