May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

Welcome to May - Mental Health Awareness month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in every five individuals struggle with mental illness in the United States.
Mental Illness is a general term in which the following classifications make-up.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Someone who struggles with mental illness could have any of the above diagnoses or a combination of diagnoses.
I personally have struggled with mental health for the better part of twenty-four years. When I was in college at the age of twenty I had my first panic/ anxiety attack and have had several bouts with Depression since.
It is really difficult to grasp the effects of mental illness unless you are in the midst of it. It can be paralyzing, feelings of worthlessness, to having irrational thoughts.
For instance - It took me ten years to drive over the Mackinac bridge. And when I finally got the courage to do it - I felt as if I was going to drive off of the bridge. I am pretty sure that I was only driving twenty-five miles per hour, but I cannot verify that as my eyes were fixed on the road ahead - not looking neither left nor right.
That day was a milestone for me. I ended up forcing myself to drive over it several times - as I repeated this on a later vacation to the Outer Banks.
But what has been more difficult than having anxiety about crossing bridges - has been the fight to not let depression cause me from missing out on life.
In all honesty - I am experiencing anxiety as I write this, and questioning whether or not I want to post this for public view - but, what if my story would validate someone who is struggling with Mental Illness to get help and, or, relieve some of the stigma associated with individuals who struggle with mental illness.
Over the last few years, the world has witnessed some high-profile individuals lose their battle with mental illness, or maybe you have a friend or family member that lost their battle with mental illness.
These types of things should cause us not to be more stoic - and feel the need to hide our struggles, but encourage us to look for ways to engage others that you may have an opportunity to help someone that doesn’t have the comfort or an opportunity in sharing their struggles with anyone.
My hope is that “Mental Health Awareness Month” is not just a green ribbon in May - but springs forth the opportunity and comfort for us to share our struggles and truly walk alongside others that need our love and encouragement.
You are worth it! And we together can become a more enlightened and less judgemental society.
John F. Hendershot, founder