This blog post about Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3 - 7) was authored by Hilary T., Oro Valley Public Library. In it, she shares thoughtful words to those living with a mental illness.
Trigger warning for discussion of suicide/self-harm.
This blog post contains content that covers mental health and wellness topics. We are not medical professionals, so please always seek the advice or care from a mental health or health care professional to find out how this topic may or may not apply to your unique situation or overall health.
As we recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3-7, 2022) I wanted to take a moment to address the people I know that live every day with a mental illness. Here’s a list of what I want you to know if you also struggle:
You are strong.
You really are so strong. People don’t know how you struggle because you get up, go into the world and make your life happen. I want to take this time to say that I see you. I see everything that goes into living in a world that doesn’t feel meant for you. I see you are trying. I see your strength.
You are wonderful just as you are.
You have nothing to prove to anyone.
Even when you don’t feel strong, I see you taking care of yourself, treating yourself well.
You go to the doctor and talk it out. You make a plan.
I can see that you don’t always feel like living life with a mental illness.
It can feel overwhelming. I see you on those days too. I see you getting by.
I know it feels lonely.
Try to find some people who can relate. You have more friends than you realize.
Just pause for a moment.
Take a breath. Take a break. It’s okay to rest. If your mind and body need a break (because life with a mental illness can be exhausting) then try to honor that the best way you can. Meditation can help.
Slow progress is still progress.
Every day you show up for your health is a day you make progress. Every doctor’s appointment, every readjustment of your life to help your health is a love letter to yourself saying, “I love myself and I take care of myself.” Try to eat well, go to bed at the same time every night, exercise, do yoga, whatever helps. Do it on a daily basis even when you feel you don’t have time. Maybe even especially when you feel you don’t have time.
You are worth it.
You are worth making time for.
Sometimes it can feel like you are barely making any progress at all.
Trust that life holds for you what you need it to. Eventually, you will get there. Don’t give up.
Your friends, your good friends, are there for you.
Please talk to them. Even if all you say is, “This is a bad day for me. Can you listen while I describe it just for a moment?”
Keep a journal.
Pour your feelings and hard times out onto the page. It cleans your soul, and makes room for healing. Even just a quick list of how you feel, just a quick journal entry can help a lot.
I don’t know you, but I love you.
I hope you are proud of the path you are walking. Continue to walk it with love and pride. You are doing such a good job. Be proud of yourself! I honor your struggle. I honor your hope. I honor your work.
If you are struggling to come to terms with the fact that you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, know that there is so much more hope that is waiting for you, so much more light, so much just plain more waiting for you if you will only accept the truth of it.
Walk in the light of truth. There are so many people who want to help you, you have only to reach out your beautiful hand with an open palm. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need.
You are meant to shine, like a sunbeam.
You are meant to glow, like the moon. You are meant to help others, and to accept help. You are meant to be here for today, for the next day, and for the day after that. Keep going. As Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön points out, “You are the sky. Everything else is the weather.” This too shall pass. Your job is to make room for healing.
Your future self will thank you!
If you need help beyond what a book can do or the advice a friend can give please reach out to a person who is waiting to help you at one of the numbers listed below.
- NAMI Southern Tucson Crisis Line: (520) 622-6000
- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
- Crisis Textline: Text HOME to 741741
- The Trevor Project for LGBTQIA+ youth has both phone numbers and texting. Text “Start” to 678-678 or call 1-866-488-7386, https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help/
- National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
- How to Improve Mental Health: MedlinePlus
- NIMH » Caring for Your Mental Health (nih.gov)
- What meditation can do for your mind, mood, and health - Harvard Health
Yoga for better mental health - Harvard Health
Here are some encouraging websites and books to help you through hard times...start on your journey with some meditation, some yoga, or just some really cute drawings of animals! You can do this!