Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices, it is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

For 2021’s Mental Health Awareness Month National Alliance on Mental Illness will continue to amplify the message of “You Are Not Alone.” Providing support and resources to a loved one or coworker can help with the increasing loneliness that is on the rise.

During this pandemic, millions of us have experienced a mental health problem, or seen a loved one struggle. And we’ve seen that the support we all need just isn’t out there.

The topic of mental and emotional health is very personal to me and I have now accepted that being open and sharing personal stories can help others struggling to stay afloat in sadness and despair.

In 2003 after completing my brutal chemo regimen, I felt constantly fatigued and had no motivation to celebrate or even do the things I loved. I hated the way I looked post chemo and didn’t want to go out and face the this new reality. I had 2 beautiful kids and a supportive family and hated feeling that way.

Initially we all assumed it was part of the recovery process but when I realized I was sad for no absolute reason, I decided to look for help in the medical community and I was fortunate to have my husband point me in the right direction.

I saw a variety of doctors for their opinions and they diagnosed me with mild depression. The diagnoses was very hard on me as mental health awareness was not widespread at that time and I felt like it meant I was crazy. In in my country the word depression was taboo as it meant you had mental issues, since there was nothing physically wrong with you.

With the support of my husband I talked to a therapist weekly and was prescribed some medications, I also took park in a Medical management support group. The support group allowed me to feel normal as there were others going through similar feelings and emotions.

It was not easy admitting that I had a mental disease and it may never go away! but knowing that I was not alone gave me solace.

It has now been 18 years and for the most part I have been stable, but there have been some dips and fortunately I see my therapist regularly and she adjusts the medicine regularly.

The purpose of this month is to bring awareness that mental disorders are real and we can and should seek help in any way we can. 

The stigma with mental health disorders needs to be shattered. Just like a physical disease needs treatment, so does a mental disease.

You can lead a normal life and your illness does not define who you are. It is totally okay to be open if you do not feel good mentally and emotionally as there are many options for help. Being there for a loved one or having the needed support is the first step to getting better, then learning to accept that it is okay to feel that way and most important seeking out the needed resources or help you need.

Some of the ways that help me stay on top of my life are:

Having an authentic support system

Practicing mindfulness through breathing and yoga

Getting a full nights rest

Getting outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and just move my body

Last but not least being mindful of adding colored fruits and vegetables into my diet and decrease sugars and simple carbohydrates.

We all are human and the key is to practice moderation, consistency and balance and to remember we all deserve to flourish!

“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but, importantly, you are not the rain.” Matt Haig