Addressing The Elephant in The Room

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is a prevalent issue that roughly affects 1 out of 4 people throughout their lifetime. So, statistically speaking, each and every one of us knows someone who suffers from a mental disorder whether we are aware of it or not. So why is it seldom discussed? Perhaps the answer lies within the stigma that is associated with it. This stigma hinders us from fully reaching out to those who are in dire need of help, support and love. For those that suffer from mental illness, the weight of the stigma attached to their disorder may prevent them from expressing their internal struggle because of the shame.

As someone who suffers from a mental illness, I have developed an intimate relationship with the shame and fear that has been brought on by this stigma. I am all too familiar with this burden– making me even more determined to advocate for those who are suffering in silence. The deepest burden one can carry is strangely one that cannot be seen with human eyes. I don’t have a lump to show people, an x-ray copy of a broken bone or tangible signs and symptoms to help them understand my ordeal. It is essential to understand that those who suffer from mental illness are not defined by their illness and therefore should not be made to feel as though they are.

So how do we break this barrier? Through love and understanding. If more and more people share their stories, we can slowly develop a platform of understanding.  Never make someone who suffers from mental illness feel as though they are a pariah. If you know someone who has a mental disorder, provide them with unyielding support. Resist judgement and instead practice love.

No therapy or amount of medication will ever compare to the treatment I received after experiencing overwhelming love and support from the people around me. I carry a new profound appreciation of life after being close to the edge of it. The sorrow that I have carried has caused me to grip happiness by its ankles whenever it is encountered. I watched myself decay over a period of time and it wasn’t until I felt a hint of love from those around me that I realized it was time for a change.

I am propelled and determined more than ever to make the best out of life after my intimate relationship with sorrow. I am hoping that this article will inspire you to act by spreading love or sharing your story. Always remember to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” And if you are currently suffering from mental illness, I want you to know that you are not alone and it gets better.