End the Stigma

…it is okay not to be okay. It’s okay to ask for help.

Someone once wrote, “The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about.” For so long we have kept mental health hidden in the shadows, refusing to admit that its toll is as great, if not far greater than the struggles of physical health. Thankfully, however, in recent years, we have begun to bring these problems into the light so that we can end the stigma and ensure everyone has the help that they need.

What most people do not know about my family is that long before the Alzheimer’s took her out, my mother suffered from severe, undiagnosed anxiety, not to mention acute, situational depression. The anxiety was genetic. The depression came from the things that happened in her life, like say losing both of her husbands before she died. Losing her own mother to Alzheimer’s. Just to name a few of the things from over the years.

Guess what? I inherited a lot of the same struggles.

Starting with that anxiety. But since mine is diagnosed, it is also treated and does not control me. And I definitely have acute, situational depression from the things that have happened in my life. That list is long. A whole lot longer than my mom’s. Yet, as Elton John sings, I’m still standing, because I get help. I have an excellent therapist and doctors who keep an eye on me regularly.

You know what, though? There are still days and weeks and months when I’m not okay. Some I can predict. Some I can’t.

But it is okay not to be okay. It’s okay to ask for help.

Because life is hard. It’s really, really difficult. A lot more of us know that then not.

And those of us who believe and trust in God, the smart ones of us realize that God gave us modern medicine and techniques and therapies as a gift. They are there for us to take advantage of so that we can be the very best versions of ourselves.

So this #mentalhealthawareness month, take a moment to share your story if you feel comfortable. End the stigma. Or, if you need to, take your first step in getting the help you need. Because at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.

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