Let’s Talk About Mental Illness…

Sometimes the people with the brightest smiles are the ones who are hurting the most inside. Their lives are depicted on social media as if it’s a movie trailer – you only see the best, funniest moments. However, that person, who may carry themselves well in public may go home to face their inner demons.

Who are these people? It could be your brother, sister, neighbor, parent, co-worker, best friend, spouse, or the person you just walked by on your evening walk. Anyone could be suffering for any reason. What could be nothing for you, could be a trigger for someone else that takes them back to that dark place.

It’s a shame that in today’s society, it is not common to talk about mental health and how you are actually feeling. There is such a stigma behind it while it’s affecting schools, workplaces, and our own homes, as if it’s “wrong” to have feelings, to suffer pain, to experience hurt.

It’s only when celebrities commit suicide until it becomes an issue. Your Facebook feed is flooded with “whys” and memories, suicide awareness numbers, and support, but then start to fade as the days pass. Those people who are suffering are still suffering long after, but the conversation disappears. The support disappears. They are left with a phone number for a helpline that may get filed in the back of their mind, filled with overpowering thoughts. Then, when it happens again, we ask, what could have we done differently? What were the signs that we missed? And the guilt sinks in.

But when it comes down to it, will you really be there for that one person who reaches out to you “just to talk”, or will you ignore their call and be “too busy”? Yes, one conversation won’t cure all, but it can help. It can give hope. We are not alone. You are not alone.

The demons within can be loud, but it is our responsibility as a community to help quiet them if you see someone in need. Listen. Be aware. Open your heart and care. Don’t stop talking about it – continue the awareness, beyond a day, week, month, year.

Encourage your children that they can talk to you about anything and you will not judge them for it. For them in instill trust and talk to you if they’ve failed or need help. To keep the conversation open and still be a parent. Be present. Be supportive. Understand that prayers, God, or beliefs may not be relevant to some, so be open. Sometimes you are all that they have.

And, when the demons are speaking the loudest, when they are alone – staring into a pool or pill-filled cabinet, be the voice in their head that makes it worth it to stay for just one more day. Are they okay…are they really okay?

What are you going to do differently today, tomorrow, next year, to keep the conversation alive?


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