May 7th through 13th marks Canadian Mental Health Week. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and one of the best strategies that has always helped me through it is not having a fear of talking about it openly. In fact, maybe it makes others uncomfortable... but it is MY coping device, I am not afraid to say, "I'm anxious. I have anxiety."
Lately I've heard about one too many suicides. Two young people from my home town, acquaintances of my middle brother (age 23), committed suicide in April. These suicides were unrelated coincidences, but it was surreal and very challenging for my brother to deal with them. I can only imagine what the families have felt - utter devastation.
When something like that happens, the "should have", "would have", and "could have" curse hits. Well, no one is at fault for these horrific tragedies. However, mental health issues need to be recognized. My brother says his generation feels like "a lost generation". All they hear in the news is how there are no jobs, the economy is bad, house prices are so high young people cannot afford to buy... it's challenging, and depressing. They are graduating from university programs with no prospects for employment, and are having to live at home longer because they cannot afford to live elsewhere -- even rent is expensive to live in a fairly decent place.
We need to allow those around us who are struggling with a mental health issue to have a safe space to speak their mind. To say, "I'm depressed", to be comforted and heard, and directed towards help. We need to remove a stigma of weakness and encourage those who need it to try therapies, even medications. Chemical imbalances in the brain are real, and there are medications that can help.
If you are struggling, feeling low or anxious or just not like yourself -- seek help. Turn to a professional, turn to a best friend, turn to your family. Please. Never be afraid to speak what's going on in your mind, and speak early... before the thoughts over take your sensibilities.
Even if you don't feel this way, keep in mind that changes throughout life can trigger mental health issues. Find ways to de-stress from your work day, cope with ageing parents in a positive way, and try to exercise your mental capabilities as much as you do the rest of your body. Take a look at a Yoga course, free your mind through a sport or activity you highly enjoy, and laugh -- do not forget the importance of smiles and laughter, the best medicine.
Best wishes through Mental Health Week. Do not be afraid to speak up. Your feelings are REAL, and they are to be valued as being real. Help is out there. Seek it, loudly and proudly.
I have generalized anxiety disorder. I'm okay with this. I'm a strong, capable, highly positive person. I'm in control, here.
How about you?