I've had something weighing on my mind a bit more than usual lately, the precarious nature of mental health and the battles that so many have to fight, including my beloved husband. He's been fighting his own demons very hard lately, and while he knows I'm here 110% for him, there is only so much I can do from the outside. Mostly I can just be there and roll with the punches. (NOT physical punches! just the emotional ones. He's never hurt me and I never will let him... I know I didn't need to say that for those who know my wonderful Gak, but... this is a public blog after all...)
Anyhow one of my New York Times headlines was this interesting story. I have already shared it on my facebook wall, but I thought I'd take a little time and write some more about it here.
There are so many people in the world who have to deal with their own personal demons when it comes to mental health. I sometimes feel like the odd one out amongst my friends when it comes to this. I am so very thankful that I've never had to battle depression or anxiety or any other of a hundred different mental illnesses including eating disorders (and yes, it is most defiantly an illness) in any significant way. There have been plenty of dark times in my life where looking back I boggle at how I made it through without falling into vast pits of despair and depression or into that trap that so many young women fall into of self mutilation and self harm. I've written before how times in my school life were anything but fun, more like a living hell. The mere fact that I did not turn to self harm in any way, including eating disorders, is amazing. I may not be the most emotionally stable person at times, but apparently I have a fairly resilient and hardy mental system. I am truly thankful for that.
Anyhow, I just thought it was interesting this woman's story. It's a story that all too many know all too well. I'd like to think that "the system" and "everyone" has come so far since the 1960s, but in many ways I doubt it. We hear stories all the time of veterans who fall through the cracks and other unfortunate souls who get lost in the system, or never even make it into the system and end up causing themselves, and often others, quite a bit of harm. My heart truly hurts for them. No one should have to endure something so life altering and heavy on their own. (I did not watch the video at the top, as I'm at work and videos are usually blocked...)
I mostly want those I know who have mental illnesses of their own to battle to know that they're not alone. That there are others out there, very successful others who have been there, done that and are often willing to help you find your way out of your own personal dark hole of hell. I want those of us who love and support and care for and about people with mental illnesses to know that we're not alone either. It's not our fault. It may be our problem, but we're not the solution. Some times we're not even a small part of the solution. We just have to keep loving and being available to our friends, family and loved ones and let them know that they're not alone. There is help available. There is no shame in asking for help, or demanding that you get it if you run into a brick wall. This is your right as a human being. Maybe it's the tree-hugging hippie liberal in me, but I truly believe that everyone deserves an avenue to help. I can't force help upon anyone, because then it's not help.
Help for mental illness has to start from within. Just like with my weight loss, often times you know what needs to be done, what should be done and even if you do it, it won't work unless you are ready for it to work. You have to believe in yourself, and often times that belief is hard to come by. I know when I was living through my own personal hell of 5th and 10th grades (the other years were only slightly hellish... those two were the worst, with the second half of 4th grade a close third...) that things only started to get better when I decided that I didn't care what others thought, I loved myself for who I am and the rest could go take a flying leap. Maybe it's because I came to that conclusion fairly early and was able to get there fairly easily that I didn't slide further down that slippery slope. If so, I'm thankful for my parents who always believed in the person I am, even if they didn't say it to me every day.
I'm really not sure where I'm going with this. There are a lot of thoughts all jumbled up in my head as I watch close friends of mine fight their own personal demons. Most seem to be winning. I think they're all winning the war, even if they don't feel like they're winning the current battle. The fact that they are battling it tells me that they will win. Maybe not tomorrow, but they will win. Again, maybe that's be being an optimist, but that's who I am.
Well, I'd best get back to work. I hope that someone, somewhere, got something out of my ramblings. I'm not sure I did, but at least I got some of the thoughts bumping around in my head out onto "paper".
Peace to all and may you have the friends, support and love that you need.