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#WorldMentalHealthDay: Does How You Feel Define Who You Are?

Updated on October 10, 2019
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.

World Mental Health Day - October 10, 2019

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World Mental Health Day: We Have To Keep Doing Better

I've often wondered whether we are more aware of mental health conditions because of the influence of social media or because we have continued to evolve as a society and it's time we talk more about these things.

Regardless, on World Mental Health Day, we have to understand the role that mental health conditions have in our daily lives, whether it's at home, at school, or at work. There are some days where the "black dog" that Sir Winston Churchill referred to will be howling at the gate, and while it's often a terrible challenge to try and overcome it when our mental health takes a turn for the worst, we still have to understand that it's something we must live with.

I'm not saying we have to ignore the role our mental health challenges play in our lives. However, we have to accept the role that mental health conditions will play in our lives and in those of others. Now that the light has been shed on mental health conditions, we have to accept that we all might be struggling with something.

When my anxiety flares, it's incredibly annoying. I didn't realize I was likely dealing with anxiety since well before 2010, when I first started having panic attacks. In retrospect, I'd probably been dealing with it since well before then, and certainly, the challenges I experienced from my childhood into my adult life have had an influence in the creation of that anxiety. However, the ripple effect of that anxiety will often leave me short-tempered, or weirdly emotional, and that, at times, can be a challenge for my friends to understand, unless they have taken the time to see behind anxiety's veil and understand what could truly be going on. Often, while there are very real causes for the anxiety, it can take something small sometimes to trigger it.

When we look at those who are struggling with mental health conditions, it's important to remember that everyone's got a story. The person who is snarling and being completely angry for no real reason might have a reason why he or she might be that way, or the person who suddenly goes quiet when they're usually talkative will have another reason behind their behavior.

We shouldn't really allow those struggling with mental health challenges to rely on these conditions as a reason for not doing something. In fact, if we can offer them strategies for coping with whatever they're dealing with, that can be far more helpful than allowing them to merely say, "I have anxiety," or "I'm depressed," and walk away from whatever they're being asked to do.

However, there is power in creating a dialogue about mental health conditions, for those who might not fully understand what impact mental health conditions can have on a person's day-to-day functioning and for those who might be experiencing mental health challenges. We need to be able to discuss anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and so many other mental health conditions.

For too long, mental health disorders have been conditions that have been discussed in whispers or with sideways glances where nothing is said directly. We need to be able to look at mental health conditions squarely and realize they are not going away with good thoughts and intentions. Conversations about mental health conditions and demonstrating some understanding about the impact they can have on how we function as a society need to come out of the shadows and that's when we can truly support people who might be struggling with mental health conditions.

For those who might not have to deal with mental health conditions personally, I can almost guarantee you know of someone who might be coping with one or many mental health conditions. That, in turn, means that you have to draw upon your own personal strength in order to help that person survive and thrive - and potentially learn how to grow in your own patience and strength in helping the person.

I'm not saying that any of this is easy, either on the person who might be on "the outside" of a mental health condition with someone you know dealing with a mental health condition, or on the person who's struggling. If life was easy, there'd be nothing to savor or to help us grow. However, it will ultimately become easier for all of us to discuss and deal with mental health conditions as a society.

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    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      7 months ago

      I read your article with interest and even though the need for dialogue regarding mental health has improved, more needs to be done in the community. As a psychologist I am all too aware of the stigma attached to mental health which has been so damaging. Awareness programs are so important, particularly in schools, Those who suffer with a mental health condition need to know that there will always be someone who will listen to them and assist them in finding the right treatment. Thank you for sharing this informative article.

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