Recently, someone I respect asked me why I write about mental health on my blog. She really “enjoys reading my family stuff, but feels like sometimes my posts focus on mental illness more than the family stuff.” That is fair. I tend to write about 50/50-things about the family and things about Mama. When she spoke to me about it, I could tell it was something she truly didn’t understand and it stuck to me. Maybe there are other people out there who wonder why on my “family” blog I openly discuss mental health/illnesses.
Lo and behold, I do have reasoning behind it. I decided to take an opportunity, after a few weeks of it laying and weighing on my heart to explain to you all why I talk about mental health so much.
I talk about mental illness, specifically within a family dynamic, because it is something I believe most of us have and will have to deal with. In my birth family, it was me. I was the one who had the therapist visits, the one who got extra letters written on my health forms. I’ve seen it in families everywhere though-addiction, depression, anxiety, impulse issues. There isn’t a family I’ve experienced in the past ten years that hasn’t had a family member who dealt with and struggled with a mental illness. It’s not this horrifying secret that needs to be hidden any longer. It’s the norm and I refuse to hide away my family’s normal struggles for the comfort of anyone else. Nearly 1 in every 5 Americans deal with a mental illness. And you are not alone if you are one of those who does.
Which is the second reason I talk about it so openly-because I do not want the others who deal with mental illnesses to feel alone. A year ago, when I opened up about my post partum depression, I received 5 messages within the day, asking for advice and if I knew who others could go to about it. When I talked about parenting with PTSD, a woman I had rarely even spoken to before came forward and we’ve grown a friendship out of that connection. Every time I talk about anxiety or depression, someone says to me “Hey. I have/am dealt/dealing with that as well.” Those connections mean the world to me. I spend a lot of time in prayer before posting longer posts about mental health, trying to decipher if I’m talking about my struggles for gratification for myself or to help others. God usually directs what I say and amazingly….it’s often what someone else needs to hear. That’s a wonderful gift I have experienced over and over again-and as long as there are others out there dealing with it in private, I am going to be someone who they can see living with it and speak to about it.
I know it gets better…and I want others to see that too. When you’re in the middle of an episode, a bad week, a rough month, it’s really easy to lose sight of the other side. I’ve been there in the midst of a hard time and I know I benefited from hearing stories about others on the side of better. I am proud of how God has changed my life, and how He has changed me and I want others to be able to see there is a life after. It’s not easy everyday and I pray I never make it seem as though it is; but it does get better.
And finally, and most importantly to me, I want my children to grow up in a world where mental health is not a taboo subject. I don’t want my kids to feel ashamed of how their brains work; I don’t want my children to believe they are broken or wrong because their bodies and minds work differently. I was blessed-my family was more supportive than most. I don’t want my kids to see a supportive family, an understanding husband and discussion around and resources for mental health as something that they are “lucky to have.” I want them to feel comfortable in their skin, comfortable as who they are. And if that means being honest and open now, clearing the air for it to be something to be discussed in public settings, I will happily sometimes feel a little uncomfortable and exposed to help make that change in life.
So, yes. I know I talk about mental health a lot. I will continue to talk about this as much as I feel is appropriate and as often as I feel called to discuss it openly. If that’s not something you wish to learn more about-that’s completely fine with me. But please remember: there is a one in five chance someone you love also deals with a mental illness. Education and awareness are two very important things; they are both things I will openly talk about until I am blue in my face.
If you were wondering why I discuss it so often, on my family blog, here are my reasons why!