Awareness is important to all areas of health

This week is National Mental Illness Awareness Week; NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) established this with Congress. It is always the first full week of October.

This week is also my son’s birthday. Several years ago I had him in for a well-child checkup and while we were waiting I saw a poster on the wall with the signs and symptoms of depression. I had almost all of the symptoms. After reading it I made an appointment for myself. I knew I was struggling and had even talked to people that I was close with, but none of us recognized that I was suffering from depression, including a couple of nurses.

The posters in our community helped me to seek and receive the help that I had needed for months. Awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental illness is important, just as the signs and symptoms of diabetes or other health issues are. We often have blinders on and do not see what is happening. We just plow or trudge on through life thinking, “I’ll get better,” ”This is temporary,” or “I don’t need a doctor,” but the fact is we need to take care of ourselves, listen to our bodies, and seek out people who can help. Do not just sit back and think time will heal all the aches and pains.

I will always be thankful that someone cared enough to make, distribute and post those awareness posters to help inform and educate people.

So many of us and our friends and family are very smart but we can’t see what is happening to ourselves or those we care about. In my case, we didn’t see the symptoms and, years later, we didn’t see my oldest son’s symptoms for diabetes, again with a couple nurses around.

We have learned through helping family and friends recognize that they may need help because of what they are experiencing. My youngest son recognized his diabetes after seeing his brother’s symptoms and experiencing them himself several years later.

Awareness is important to all areas of health. Talk with your doctor when you go in for a checkup, ask questions when things don’t feel right or your body feels different, be aware of what you should watch for if health problems run in your family. Educate yourself about you and seek wellness.

Leslie Sladek, CPSS