For those of you who don’t know, this week is National Suicide Prevention Week. So, I’m just going to start this off by throwing some statistics at you. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. On average, there are 117 suicides per day. Each year, 42,773 Americans die as a result of suicide. So, are you listening now?
While mental illness is not the only cause of suicide, it is the leading factor. Mental illness is not something we can keep ignoring. As a society, we’ve created such a negative stigma around those who suffer from mental illnesses, but in reality, 57.7 million people in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental illness every year. Having dealt with my own depression and anxiety and watched others do the same, this is something that I hold very near and dear to me.
I am here to be a voice.
Mental illness is not something that you just “get over,” so stop telling people who are depressed to “stop being sad.” Depression is so much more than just being sad. It comes in waves. Some days you are the happiest person in the world. Other days you feel like the entire world is crashing down around you, and sometimes you don’t even know why.
Mental illness is not something you can just explain, so stop telling people to tell you what’s wrong or what they’re freaking out about. Sometimes even on the brightest days, depression can make you feel like the world is coming to an end. Sometimes you wake up at 4 in the morning feeling so much anxiety you could throw up. It doesn’t always have an explanation, and sometimes it just happens.
Mental illness is not always something that can be seen with the eyes, so stop saying it’s not real just because you don’t see it. Sometimes anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses are suffered internally. Just because someone seems like the happiest, most outgoing person in the world, doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with anything. As a matter of fact, most people who deal with mental illness are dealing with it alone, which really sucks.
Mental illness is not just for “crazy people,” so stop making it a “no-go” for conversation and causing people to feel so alone. Quite honestly, there are so many people who deal with mental illness of some form on a daily basis. The only “crazy” thing about it is that we try so hard to ignore it. Mental illness is something that we should be able to talk about as easily as the common cold.
Mental illness is not a cry for attention. Seriously. IT IS A REAL THING AND PEOPLE DEAL WITH IT AND WHEN YOU TELL PEOPLE THEY ARE JUST ASKING FOR ATTENTION YOU ARE JUST MAKING THINGS WORSE AND YOU NEED TO NOT.
Mental illness is not discriminatory. I first started going to counseling for depression when I was 8 years old. It is something that impacts regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, age, what your favorite football team is, what your favorite color is, or what you ate for dinner last night. It can be anyone.
Mental illness is not a sign of weakness. People who deal with mental illness of any kind are some of the strongest people there are. They are fighting a battle bigger than you could ever imagine every single day of their life, and most of the time you don’t even know.
Most importantly, mental illness is not something you have to take on alone.
I challenge every single person who reads this to change your way of thinking. Say something kind to someone this week. Do some random act of kindness. You never know who you could be helping or how much it could mean to someone. Most importantly, act as a voice, whether that is in the form of sharing this blog post or sharing your own words. We can’t continue to ignore something so big.
For anyone dealing with your own battle with mental illness, just know, you are not alone. You are strong. You are amazing. Shine your light for the world to see.