The Struggle

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Observed on the 10th of October each year, World Mental Health Day was established to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world with the goal of mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.

The struggle is real. For me, this struggle exists each and every day. Most of the time I’m pretty “normal” in fact, most people have no idea that I’ve suffered from crippling depression in the past or that I deal with anxiety daily. Unfortunately as good as I am at “managing” my thoughts and behavior there are times that I lose control. I break down. I lose the ability to think rationally. Most often I cry. Sometimes I get angry and mean and say things that are hurtful to others. The hardest part about dealing with my “faulty” brain is that other people do not understand, cannot empathize, and have unrealistic expectations.

I do the best that I can. For me, this is drug-free. I have found that the episodes I have are few and far between and thus I have chosen to deal with them individually instead of maintaining a medicine regimen. For others, this means they are taking mind-altering medication on a daily basis. A well known blogger, Heather Armstrong, has written about her struggles (and depression in general) quite often.

What I want you to know is that my struggles with mental health are not uncommon and they are not something for me or anyone else to be ashamed of… we, as a nation, as a global force, need to do more to raise awareness of mental health issues and must do more to get the help out there where it’s needed.

The issues that seem to be most relevant lately deal with mass shootings and the growing homeless population. Both of these issues are rooted in the lack of readily available mental health services and support. I know that many people claim that gun violence can be curbed by outlawing guns but that simply is not the case. Look at the drug culture here in America. The “war on drugs” has done nothing to stop people from choosing to partake in hard substances. Approximately 20-25% of our homeless suffer from mental illness and although there is no direct correlation between those who commit mass shootings and mental health issues we know that the majority have been labeled as “loners” and had some kind of “psychosocial problem”.

The bottom line is that mental health is a real issue with real consequences and we do little in this country to help. Most insurance will only cover 60% of the expenses related to mental health care and it is not treated the same as other medical issues such as a broken bone or even migraines. The out of pocket expense for true expansive coverage of mental health is too much for the average person and far too much for those who need it most.

Today, TED has collected a playlist of 7 talks dealing with the struggle of mental health. Please take some time to educate yourself on the issue and to take action. The struggle is real. The struggle is relevant to us all.

Thank you for your time.