May is my month!. It’s my birthday month. It’s also when I would get a break from college, and it’s usually when the weather starts getting warmer in Wisconsin. More importantly, May is Mental Health Awareness Month aka a time when I want all of you to bend a knee because I have a healthy relationship with antidepressants and you all should be made aware.
Okay I’m kidding, but a part of me does want to throw some confetti for all of my brothers and sisters who also deal with the daily ups and downs of mental health.
I’ve already beat it into your head that we’re not waiting for a new day, week, or month to start celebrating the little things. But, sometimes we need that little life sign to jump, ya know? I feel moved to write this and something compelled you to read it. There’s your sign. If you’re not celebrating your mental health for EXACTLY what it is, this is your sign.
Let me explain. Just like I have friends in all shapes and sizes, I have loved ones at all different points of the mental health spectrum. I have friends who don’t always approve of talking about mental health all the way to friends who write, sing, or podcast about it just like I do. I have family that have gone through similar diagnoses or experiences, and friends who have never even imagined going to therapy. This is a month to celebrate you, your mind, and your mental health.
More importantly, it’s a month all about understanding that no one mental health is identical to another. It’s about awareness – which is so damn cool if you think about it. It means that if you say you’re an ally, no one is expecting you to be an expert. It means that you want to be a part of ending a stigma of the past for people struggling in the present. It means that you want to understand someone other than yourself, which is so important in this society.
I have been talking about and attempting to understand my mental health for years now. Each year, Mental Health Awareness Month comes around and it means more and more in my journey to recovery. When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t aware that there were others like me. My parents weren’t aware of how they could best support a teenager that was doing all she possibly could to push everyone away.
It took me far too many years and far too many Mental Health Awareness Months to realize that I am not defined by the medicine that I took, the diagnoses that still sit in my Mercy MyChart, or even by the stories I already share about my mental health.
For so long, I told myself that one of the first labels that was important for people to know about me was “depressed” or “anxious”. For so long, it felt like the only thing I could talk about, the only thing that was worth listening to. Maybe I wanted them to know that because I wanted to prove the strength that I found. Or, maybe I still hadn’t found a label that really feels right.
Each day, I can choose a different label. I mean, that’s the beautiful thing about the world, right? You don’t ever have to be the same person you were the day before. I’m a daughter, sister, voter, friend, blogger, college graduate, photographer. Saying that I’m one of those things, or all those things, doesn’t change the fact that I know I’m a warrior.
I mean, what about when I’m doing really well? Do I still have to talk about depression when the bad days aren’t very often? Do I still have to blog about panic attacks when I haven’t had one for months? Talking about that part of my life is important, especially during months when we aim to spread awareness. The beautiful thing about Mental Health Awareness Month is you get to see people in all aspects of their journey – the confusion, the pain, the anger, the loneliness, the acceptance, and even the recovery. So, a big part of my mental health journey now is understanding that I don’t have to keep validating myself as a warrior. I wear my armor everyday.
Are you feeling okay during May? Or, are you feeling like your mental health might need some extra love? Contact me at any of my socials below – I want to hear your story!
Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact info can be found on the ‘Contact Me’ page!