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MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
"There are millions of people in this world who are tortured by their own minds." The "voice in the head" creates doubts, fears, and suffering, but many of us aren't aware of what's happening or how to experience a feeling of lasting inner peace...That is until we discover the power of Presence...Eckhart Tolle.
As 2002 began today I started thinking about what I would like to write about in this New Year. Because of my own personal journey last year, delving into my own mental health issues by finally seeking out a good therapist, I have decided to devote this entire year to writing articles with mental health as the main focal point. There are many wonderful organizations out there who support mental health such as The Trevor Project, The Mental Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America. But even with all of these organizations doing amazing work in representing that bilious green ribbon, it seems in our society the stigma attached to the subject of mental health stubbornly continues to exist. Think about the last time that someone, either a friend, a co-worker or even your significant other simply asked you, "how are you feeling?". What is always your first thought? It's probably that physically you may feel fine, even really good so your response is that proverbial, standard response of, "I'm fine, thanks". But does it ever occur to you when asked this question by anyone that they are asking about how your mental health is, not necessarily just your physical health? To be completely honest, I NEVER have. When asked this question my mind always goes straight to how I am feeling physically, never mentally.
I am taking steps such as quieting my mind and checking my ego at the door in order to become more aware of how I am feeling both physically and mentally whenever I am asked this question. Because I want to be completely honest when giving my answer. No more "I'm fine" when I am NOT. I want to feel not only the freedom but the confidence to say how I am really feeling at any given moment. No more ignoring however it is or pushing it down for the sake of preventing the uncomfortableness it might cause someone else to feel. Screw that. So many of us are walking around in so much emotional pain and spending way too much time in an exhaustive state covering it up instead of admitting how we honestly feel to others. Anyone who cannot understand being in emotional pain at some time in their life is either a liar or a complete narcissist. But the tendency is to cover it up and make lame excuses for it. Have a bad back? Have stomach problems? Have migraine headaches? Got a cancer diagnosis? We will talk to everyone about that without a second thought. We will even perhaps educate ourselves on those maladies in an attempt to feel more empowered. But if you are in a bad place mentally, are struggling to keep your anxiety/panic attacks in check, or grasping at anything and everything to keep from feeling like you're falling apart emotionally, we keep those feelings locked up as tight as Fort Knox. I think it's because no one wants to appear weak or unable to cope with having to struggle every day navigating through the darkness that can be a damaging mental issue. This is what has to change.
We must ALL feel free to express our feelings both physical as well as mental openly and honestly, out loud. The two are inexplicably linked. They are conjoined twins. One cannot live without the other. They both feel pain. They both suffer. No one on this earth should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed for speaking out about how they struggle mentally any more than they should about a physical ailment they are dealing with. We all need to work together as a society to break the stigma that surrounds the subject of mental illnesses, whatever shape it takes. Somehow society got it into their heads that only Vets suffer from PTSD or that addiction to drugs or alcohol to the point of it being a life-threatening extreme is because someone is weak-minded. It usually spirals out of control because that person is in extreme emotional pain and has not felt safe or able to talk about it to anyone. So they use it to numb that pain instead of letting it out by having a conversation. This is why the suicide rate is higher than it's ever been. And the ages of people committing suicide are getting younger by the minute. So let's all join together to vow that the next time someone you know says they are "fine", make sure it's not just a physical "fine". Make sure it's also a mental one...and maybe together we can all find what Eckhart Tolle said in his quote at the top of this article.
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