May is Mental Health Awareness Month and today I’m sharing 3 things that are on my mind about mental health.
- I have seen a therapist off and on since I was 18 and a freshman in college. At that time, my brother had just died, my mother was borderline suicidal, I was terribly homesick (it was actually displaced grief) and I pretty quickly recognized that I needed help. I’m so grateful that I was able to talk with someone on campus, not just because it helped me with my mental health at that time, but also because I learned at an early age that therapy is a game changer. I also saw a therapist after my mother died, Dale and I worked with a marriage therapist to help with issues as we blended our family, and I started seeing a therapist again shortly after Randy committed suicide. For me, therapy is the work of a lifetime and it’s something that not only helps me, it’s something I enjoy.
- Everybody can benefit from therapy. Yes, I said everybody. You don’t have to have gone through terrible things, although I have. You don’t have to be plagued with anxiety, although I am. You don’t have to have been through divorce and grief and trauma, although those are all things I have experienced. You simply have to have a brain. When Dale was in the hospital after his accident, the social worker came to his room to see if he wanted to discuss his feelings about what happened to him. Dale told her that he really didn’t remember what happened and that he didn’t therapy. She point blank told him: everyone with a brain needs therapy. It’s something that has stuck with me ever since.
- We need to be open about our experiences with mental health. I’m not saying you need to write a blog or a book or go on local cable and discuss your trauma. But I am saying that sharing your experience with a trusted friend or family member is a good idea. Not only will it help you to process your feelings, it may also help them to understand you better. And it will illustrate to them that you aren’t afraid to talk about your mental health and, in doing so, it may help them to open up about their own struggles. I was so proud of my sister-in-law for her honesty and openness about Randy’s suicide. We had many many people reach out to us and thank us for being truthful about how Randy died and then going on to share about their own family or friends who had also committed suicide. Getting it out in the open is freeing. When someone we know is diagnosed with cancer we are immediately on board with cards and a meal train and tons of support. If that same person is diagnosed with a mental illness, we either don’t know because it’s private, or, if we do know, we feel awkward about addressing it. Let’s end the stigma and talk about it.
I’m not a doctor and my experiences as described here are all first hand and anecdotal. I hope you will consider what I have shared and use it to enhance how you deal with mental health . . . either your own or someone else’s.
Please share your link below if you wrote a post for today. Thanks.
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party! Click here to enter
I’ve seen a therapist on and off and it was so helpful. I have felt the need to see one again lately as I feel like I’m in a funk after loosing a close friend to cancer and other stressful situations.
Mental health is just as important as physical health and we need to make sure we do whatever we need to maintain all aspects of our health. Thanks for the reminder!
Karen Woodhall says
I applaud your courage. My brother had just got out of jail from a DUI, took a gun from his estranged partner’s home and went off into the woods. They found his jaw bone 11 months later. I chose to think it a suicide though it’s bear and cougar country where he lived. I too have used talk therapy w a shrink on and off since a divorce at 23.
Well said, Carole. Therapy saved my life a couple of times when I was overwhelmed with tragedies.
I think mental health is so important. The times I have talked with a therapist have been incredibly important….life changing. Thank you for this reminder!
Thank you for your honesty and for saying something that needs to be said. People should not be afraid to get help for themselves or a loved one.
What a beautiful, heartfelt post, Carole. Thanks for sharing your story and experiences and . . . especially for speaking out. XOXO
Mary K. in Rockport says
Ditto what Kym wrote.
Important words Carole. Thank-you for being you. xo
Yes, I, too, thank you for speaking out. Mental health is just as important as physical well being. It’s such a shame there has always been a stigma around mental health. Brabo to you for writing this post.
Sandi S. says
Perfectly stated, I could have written most of this personally as well. I have lived similar experiences and been in and out of therapy since HS also. Now, consistently for 9 years, since my youngest was born.
My Father died by his own hand when I was 18, so well over half of my life now. 21 years last February, a mere month before his first of 10 grandchildren were born. 10 years to the day later my Mother died of Cancer, 10 days after finding out she had it (while I was pregnant with my 2nd). I held both my Mother and Grandmother (her Mother) in my arms while a single tear streamed down their faces as they passed peacefully away. These as you know all to well, are moments that can paralyze you and will stay with you always.
No one is truly rid of sadness/pain/trauma, but consistently having a neutral party to talk to does help to provide coping mechanisms as you navigate the rest of your days/months/years to come. Just as the same applies to anyone simply trying to get through day to day life in general.
I could not agree more with everything you said, Carole. I think everyone should have the ability to go to therapy (and it should be a heck of a lot more affordable!). Even those who aren’t actively struggling with something can benefit from the perspective and the strategies for coping with difficult things. And I think we should all be open and honest about it because then it makes it much less intimidating.
I have gone to therapy 3 times, the first 2 around 30 years ago and the most recent was 6 sessions through work at the start of the pandemic. I think about finding another therapist but haven’t searched too hard yet.
I worked with a therapist for about eight years, about 40 years ago, and I return to the things she taught me and the tricks/techniques I learned from her almost weekly. For sure it saved my life at the time and has certainly saved, if not my life, at least my peacefulness, a million times since. You have it right, it’s a life’s work and it’s worth every penny, every minute. I feel very fortunate to have done this trip when my insurance paid almost all the cost (not so true today I think) and it was possible to go on and on with no limit on insurance coverage (certainly not true today) which is a shame. Employers and insurance companies should realize that keeping people mentally healthy is an investment worth making on many levels. We do need to talk it up! Thanks, Carole (as usual).