Going Green for Mental Health Awareness

Today, I’m going green for Mental Health Awareness. May is Mental Health Awareness month here in the United States. This is something near and dear to my heart because I live with five (5) mental illnesses every day of my life and I have a tendency towards a sixth (which just means that my symptoms aren’t bad enough for full diagnosis). 

  • 1 in 5 adults (60 million people) in the United States lives with a mental health condition.
  • 1 in 25 adults (10 million people) in the United States live with a serious mental health condition. 
  • 60 million adults in the United States face the day-to-day reality of living and dealing with a mental illness. 
  • 90% of all suicides are committed by people with a mental health condition, but it doesn’t have to be this way. 70-90% of all sufferers experience a significant reduction of symptoms if they are getting the right treatment and have good support.
    (All statistics are from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

I am one of those 60 million people. Day-to-day living with a mental illness is not easy, to say the least. Some days, it’s debilitating. Other days, it’s just simply hard. On those days when it’s just simply hard, I’m able to go to work, able to blog, able to get together with friends, able to have a life. The days in which it’s debilitating, it’s just that – debilitating. I cannot work, cannot blog, cannot hang out with friends. About the most I can do is maybe make it out of bed to the couch. Maybe.

Mental health isn’t something that’s easy to talk about and yet, it should be. One should be able to say, “My anxiety is really high today” just as easily as one can say, “Man, my allergies are really bad today”. They’re both illnesses. Neither is more “legitimate” than the other. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma attached to mental illnesses. Stigma refers to not only the tangible reasons that most people stay silent such as bullying, rejection, and discrimination, but it also refers to the intangible reasons, feeling isolated, being blamed for your mental illness, and feeling shame for having a mental illness.

If you notice, while I’m open about the fact that I have five (5) mental illnesses, I did not name them. That’s because of the stigma associated with them. It’s become more acceptable to talk about having depression and anxiety, both of which I have. But there are still some very severe mental illnesses where the stigma attached is so great that people automatically assume that if someone has one of those illnesses, they’re a danger to society. Unfortunately, I have one of those. Consequently, I don’t usually talk about what specific mental illnesses I have.  

However, let me be candid and frank. Any mental illness, no matter how severe, does not automatically mean the person is a danger to society. I’m not saying it’s not possible. We all know it’s possible. I watch the news as much as the rest of you. But simply having a mental illness should not be the sole component that an individual is judged on. Period. Do you automatically think that someone with diabetes or multiple scleorsis or cancer is a danger to society? No, you probably don’t because most people don’t. Similarly, those with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), antisocial personality disorder, or any other mental illness should not automatically be considered a danger to society.  With the proper treatment (which is usually a combination of medication and therapy), people can learn how to cope with their mental illness and can be productive members of society, but many don’t seek help because of all the stigma attached to mental illness. We as a society need to work together to change that.

My challenge to all of you today is two-fold:  

  1. I encourage you to educate yourself, learn about the disorders that people have, and then go out and start conversations with people about mental illness. Help end the stigma that people with mental illness feel. Help end any stigma you may feel against someone with a mental illness. Only by working together can we end all stigma. 
  2. If you have a mental illness and you’re currently not seeking help for whatever reason, please do yourself the favor and seek help. It is the single best thing you can do to change your life. It’s not easy. I know it’s not, but it really is the single best thing you can do to learn how to cope with your mental illness. 

Large banner with ways of talking and not talking about



Life with Depression & Anxiety

As I said in my welcome post, while this blog will mostly be book reviews, there will be  occasional posts of my musings on life. Today is one of those posts.

I have several mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. For the most part, I’m still able to work full-time and do some things after work, depending on how many “spoons” I have left after work (Here’s a link if you don’t know what “spoons” means: The Spoon Theory).  Unfortunately, for the last 2 weeks or so, getting thru work has taken every single “spoon” I have for the day. By the time I make it through work, I’m utterly spent. If I do anything at night, it’s playing mindless computer games (Candy Crush Jelly, anyone?).

Of course, then my anxiety kicks in because I have all these books that I need to read for review purposes and I’m not getting to them. This in turn makes my depression worse, with depression kicking my butt, telling me I’m useless and worthless because I can’t get things done in the time frame that I said I would. Then my anxiety gets worse, etc… It can become a seemingly never-ending cycle in my head. I work hard at not letting it really bring me down. Most days I’m successful, but sometimes, it just feels like life is so overwhelming, I have an elephant on my back. This is one of those times.

I don’t share these things to elicit pity or whatever emotion it invokes in you. I share it for two reasons.

1) To serve as a semi-apology. The anxiety ridden part of me says I should apologize for not having a post in over a week. Particularly when I have such a large queue of things to read. Logically my brain knows that I don’t need to give an apology, but I’ve found in these situations, it’s better to issue the apology instead of stewing about it for weeks. It helps keep the panic at bay for a while longer. It’s a perfect example of picking one’s battles. I need my spoons for fighting off the negative thoughts about myself that depression gives me, not for fighting the panic of not apologizing, especially if apologizing will take care of that panic for me.

2) I’m a firm believer that if we don’t talk about mental illnesses and mental health issues, they won’t lose their stigma. You never know who in your life might be suffering from one or more mental illnesses. Those of us who suffer from mental health issues often hide them because the stigma behind them is so huge. I’m pretty careful about how much I share and with whom. You never know how someone’s going to react when you tell them about these things. I don’t want to lose friendships over it, or the job I love. Consequently, I work really hard at not letting them interfere with my life.

Most days, if you saw me at my job, you’d never know I was battling these illnesses. But I know they’re there and I know how tough the battle is, but very few would be able to tell. My job is in the customer service field, which means working with the public. I do all I can to be a smiley, cheerful figure for people to in order to help them the best I can.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t work and more of the depression seeps through, but most days you wouldn’t be able to tell.

During the harder times, I try to stay positive and try to not get too down on myself. I have to live with these conditions for the rest of my life so I’ve got to make the best of it. Sometimes that means I have to be gentle with myself and try to control the panic over not getting things done when I want to. Sometimes that means finding someone to help motivate me and get something done. And sometimes it just means I need to rest more.

I’m not ashamed that I have depression and anxiety. Yes, some days they’re really tough to work with and life doesn’t go so well. Other days they’re more manageable and I can go about living my life. But I do have to be realistic and know that sometimes, sometimes I’m just going to have to rest and not get everything done. It sucks, but I know from experience, it’ll just make things worse if I push myself too far.

So for now, I’m behind on reviews. I’m hoping that things will improve soon so I can back on track. Please bear with me. Thank you for being here and reading my posts.