An introduction to my blog
I didn’t really take the time to think about my mental health until I got to college. Until that point, I knew ‘mental health’ as an area of concern for a particular category of people: those who saw therapists or specialists, or those who dealt with depression or anxiety. These were concepts that I’d learned about in school, but were not things I truly understood. In my eighteen-year-old mind, those who worried about mental health were in a world apart from mine.
This all changed after my first quarter of college, when, for the first time in my life, I was forced to face a significant amount of unexpected stress. After staying up for hours at night, not being able to focus on my coursework; not being able to eat and feeling like I had a giant hole in my heart. For the first time, I found myself feeling helpless, even scared. More than anything, I found myself feeling ashamed: suddenly, I needed the same kind of support I had previously stigmatized.
It’s embarrassing to me now that, at one point in time, I thought of mental health care as something I didn’t need. But, I’m so grateful for the lesson that I got to learn from this experience: not everyone needs to see a mental health specialist in their life time, but everyone should care about mental health, and it shouldn’t take a stressful event to realize it’s importance.
At the time of this event, I found myself surrounded by closed doors: the university counseling office was booked out for weeks and wasn’t taking appointments, and I couldn’t get myself to reach out to my friends to sit down with me and talk about my stress because I felt like they had already heard enough about it and didn’t need to hear anymore. There was a call service that I heard about later on, but talking to someone you don’t know over the phone just isn’t the same as getting help face to face, in person. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? I realized that by choosing to be blissfully unaware of the health care that was probably most important, I created barriers for myself in accessing it, barriers which took time and maturity to conquer.
Luckily, I had a loving group of friends and my family who never gave up on me, and got me through a few very difficult months. I was lucky to have people in my life who knew better than I did at the time. And although I thanked my friends and family as many times as I possibly could, they had one common response: “that’s why we’re here”.
“That’s why we are here.”
That’s why we are here, in a massive group, approx. 7 billion strong. We aren’t here to judge, categorize and stigmatize, as I once did. We are here, together, because although each of us can only look at the world through one pair of eyes, we have the ability to think, understand, and most importantly, to show empathy. And taking the time to understand the mentalities of the people around us, no matter how different they might be from our own, is one of the best ways to improve mental health.
So, why care about mental health? Because you deserve access to help when you need it. You deserve to know where to get help, and who you can talk to. You deserve to be the best version of yourself, because your good mental health helps you to be the best version of yourself. And most importantly, because by taking care of your mental health, you can do your duty of helping your loved ones take care of theirs.