It's Mental Health Blog Day today. I only found out a few minutes ago via Twitter. But I had to participate. I have to. Mental health matters. It matters to me. It should matter to you.
It's so easy to use words like nuts, crazy, whacko, insane. I use them. I shouldn't - but I do. Usually about myself, so then it seems like it becomes okay. We can say what we want about ourselves, right? It's like I can battle my little brother to the end but someone comes near him and that's IT. I'm up in their face in a heartbeat. (We're grown-ups now, we don't battle anymore, I'm just sayin'.)
Mental health is kind of like that. I can talk about my own, and it took me some time to do so, but you try to not address that of others, lest you be looked at in a certain way.
And this time? Today? It's different.
I'm going to ask you to LOOK at your friends and loved ones. Take a good look.
For they might be struggling, too.
There are so many hidden aspects of mental health issues, so many things we don't recognize, we don't always know that a friend who cancels dinner plans 3-4 times in a row might be facing crippling anxiety. The mom who never wants to bring her kids to your house to play? Too depressed. She doesn't WANT to use the television as a babysitter. She just has to. She literally CAN'T bring herself to leave the house.
Your friend with the clutter? There might be some OCD tendencies there. They can't throw ANYthing away. (I know - I'm self-defined as a hoarder lite. I swear there's some OCD going on. I can laugh at it. But it's there.)
The new mom who isn't sure what's wrong with her? The one who is afraid to tell anyone but you just sense that something is off. Because you've been there. You know. You just know.
The momma-to-be who is afraid to leave the house. Imagining the worst? She needs you, too.
Can you reach out? Can you ask these people if they're okay? Can you remind them that they're not alone? All it takes is a question. An ear. A shoulder. A hug.
Look at these words.
Look at them.
How many of them impact YOU? Someone you love?
If you're looking at the big ones and saying, nah. I don't know anyone experiencing these things. I don't know anyone on meds to manage anything like that. Think again. If you think that these things don't matter - let me enlighten you - you're wrong.
SO many people out there are experiencing mental health related issues, and they're terrified to say so. The stigma that they see? Those words? "She's nuts. Crazy." "What is WRONG with him?" "What's his problem?" "I'm tired of her canceling plans. I'm done. Let her find some new friends to cancel on."
It makes so much sense to you to react this way. I'm not mad at you for doing so. I just want you to understand. Recognize there can be so much more than the eye can see. Use your gut. Sense it. Maybe offer to watch the kids while she takes a shower. Heck, a bath, even! Offer to come over to her house for the playdate. Pick her up if she's afraid to drive. Talk to him about YOUR therapist. Or your mom's. Whatever. Make it real. Make it normal. Make it okay.
Because it is. It's okay. Really.
And if it doesn't feel like it is, it WILL BE. I promise.
Because they aren't alone. They have YOU. And you know now. You know you can help.
And they hopefully know it, too.
Just do it.
Your friends need you. And I'm willing to bet that you need them, too.