May is a mental health awareness month. Many articles focus on how we can be a support for our loved ones who are suffering from a mental illness. I would like to focus on you and what mental illness has to do with you, regardless if you do or do not have a diagnosis.
All of us are becoming more aware of mental illness and are exposed to knowledge about different types of diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, and post traumatic stress disorder. Along with our awareness of mental illness comes the fear of understanding mental illness in relation to our selves. What’s if I become mentally ill? Or how can I fight and resist a mental illness such as depression? These questions can infringe on our ability to allow our selves to experience certain emotions. The fear of having a mental illness (know some of the myths about mental illness) causes us to suppress and push away feelings of sadness or anxiety. It is okay to allow yourself to experience true sadness, anger, anxiety, or disappointment. Emotions ebb and flow. Just because you are feeling anxious right now does not mean it will last forever and it does not mean that you have a mental disorder. This also applies to those who are diagnosed with a disorder. Just because you have a diagnosis of depression, does not mean you will have this diagnosis forever.
Siting with our emotions is not with out its challenges. What’s if your sadness isn’t going away and you continue to say; “it’ll pass”? Mental health, our emotions, our self-awareness, our mental-wellbeing is complex. We need to find the fine-line between experiencing our emotions without chasing them away, and recognizing when our emotions are impeding on our growth. When you jus can’t rid yourself of the nagging sadness, anxiety, confusion, or simply feeling overwhelmed with all your thoughts then it is time to seek out help from a therapist. If you are still unsure if your feelings are excessive, ask a trusted friend if they see a difference in your mood, attitude, and behaviors.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC,CASAC