Mental Illness Awareness: Learn A Little – by Leslie

Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 4-10, has just closed. I didn’t promote this as much as I have in past years; I have been busy working on my life, wellness…yes, recovery.  This week does bring many memories, though, as it was several years ago I had my son in for his well child check up (his birthday is the 9th) and I read a poster with the questions of life changes similar to these:

  • Sadness, crying spells
  • Changes in appetite
  • Irritable or angry
  • Loss of energy or concentration
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Feeling guilty, worthless
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Not enjoying thing you used to
  • Accelerated use of alcohol or drugs

I said yes to most of the statements! I had gone months of not knowing what was wrong. Talking with my clergy, attending services more often, feeling the need to confess the same thing over and over again and yet how could this be depression as my priest mentioned? I had made an attempt on my life as a teen and wasn’t diagnosed. Seeing these questions I immediately made an appointment to see my physician a.s.a.p. Maybe depression was the problem, I answered yes to most of the statements. Something needed to change.

Mental Illness Awareness. How many people do not know what a mental illness is enough to recognize a true mental health problem? I didn’t. Medical people in my life only appeared to deny the possibility and yet there it was. I truly wish I had known sooner. I may have had a less severe form of depression that was not treatment resistant. It might not have changed my life quite as dramatically as it did over time.

So today I am taking the time to mention Mental Illness Awareness and how necessary it is. Just as we all need to be aware of changes on our skin, symptoms of diabetes and monthly breast exams, colonoscopies and mammograms. We need to take charge of our mental health, and know a little, so we can look further if necessary for ourselves, a loved one or a friend. Mental illnesses affect 1 in 5 people directly. My life affects many, as does the suicide of our friends, and the circle widens. There is help out there and it all begins with a little knowledge to begin with and the willingness to speak to others if needed. What we don’t recognize in ourselves, others may, if we’re open to talking about what is happening in our life.

I continue to talk to the correct people and pursue my dreams. The dreams are a bit different than they used to be and I’m thrilled when I can help someone avoid the stumbling blocks along the way in their wellness. When they get better and begin to live their path of recovery, that is all the better yet.

Take a look at the mental health information on “Learn” tab on the home page of this site.