As many of us know, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The idea behind this month is to break the stigma that has followed mental health illnesses such as bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia for many decades. However, if you are an advent learner like myself, you learn many things across various topics, including mental illnesses. My research on mental health and mental illness started when I was 17 years old.

At 17 years old, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and major depression. At that age, I did not truly understand what that meant or how it would affect my life into adulthood. However, I know that it was not something I would share with anybody besides my mother and my younger brother. I know what medication can do to someone who doesn’t even know what is going on within their mind. My doctor’s prescription had caused me to be placed along with other medicines to help counter-balance the adverse side effects. It was not until my early 20’s into the late ’20s that I realized that treatment was not for me, and I was able to control my mind through better eating and exercising daily simply.

If we were to glance at my life right now, many people would think that I have it all together. But, in reality, I do not have it all together, and there are weeks or months where I still struggle with the nagging in the back of my head that keeps me looking over my shoulder or keeps me isolated in the house when I want to go out and socialize but my mind simply can’t. Even after finding my remedy, it does not always work. However, I have found ways to help me stay focused and determined to continue to have a healthy life. 

Many people have done messages about mental health awareness. Some have created heart-warming Facebook posts, while others have created short diaries of their day-to-day struggles with mental illnesses. I have contemplated what I should do all month to show that mental illness affects everyone regardless of race or gender, occupation, or social status. I recently created a YouTube page specifically to build up mental health through personal development this month, but I do not think it is enough. So I decided to write and share some words of wisdom for anyone how has been struggling, feels ashamed, or has no one to talk to.

  1. It’s okay not to be okay. Even people who do not suffer from any mental health illness have rough days. Every day is not going to go as we would like. However, every day is a new chance to work on ourselves and build up to be the person we are to become.
  2. Talk about it. This is the piece of advice that I wish I knew years ago. Years of keeping my thoughts and emotions bottled in have caused the emotional damage that I’m working on daily. Therapy is an excellent resource in having a third party talk to you about whatever you are going through. If you can not afford a therapist, try and find that one person you can trust and use them as the person to express yourself. 
  3. There is nothing wrong with you. Many people feel that they are a burden to their loved ones because of their mental illnesses. Not only are you not a burden, but more people have a mental illness than you think. Also, remember, those who care will not mind, and those who mind will not care.

The semi-colon has become an international symbol of mental illness. Many writers use semi-colons to add on a conjoining sentence instead of a period to prevent run-on sentences. They are used for related sentences and let the readers know that the thought is not over and more to come. Even with mental illness, there is still more to come. Remember, you are the author, and the sentence is your life. Keep going. If you ever need someone to talk to, I will be here for you.