Yes, I know that it’s not the most motivational of titles, but let’s talk about it anyway.
Mental health is as important as physical health, but there aren’t always physical symptoms to show that something’s wrong, and I think that too many people believe that because they can’t see it, it’s not happening.
I was fifteen the first time I saw Girl, Interrupted (1999), and it was the first time I learned that there was a word to describe the thoughts I had, the ambivalence toward life, and the emptiness I felt. Mental health was not a priority in my family’s household–it still isn’t, for most of my family–and so my condition was not recognised or acknowledged, written off as a side-effect of puberty and high school drama. As a minor, I could not get the help I needed without my parents’ permission, and I was lucky, very lucky, that I had a compassionate school counselor and good friends who supported me. It took many years, and a lot of therapy once I reached adulthood, but eventually I could say I was ‘okay’ and it wasn’t a lie.
The status of our mental health isn’t always a choice, I know, but we can hopefully choose whether or not to let someone know we’re not okay. Whether it’s a more serious condition like Susanna’s, or it’s just an off-day, it’s okay to let people know you’re not okay.
September is National Suicide Prevention month. If you or a loved one need help, please consider reaching out. Here are a few resources available in the United States. For elsewhere, please visit the WHO’s page for mental health resources; they have extensive lists of resources.
- Lifeline Crisis Chat
- Mentalhealth.gov treatment locator
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
- ADAA Online Support Group