World Mental Health Day: What it Means to Me

By Wanda – 

I was pretty young when the differences in thought patterns made themselves evident. It was maybe third grade when depression made itself evident in my life; the anxiety had always been with me. By sixth grade the trouble was evident enough that my family talked to the doctor, the pastor, and was looking for a counselor. By then end of that year I was on Prozac. There’s no way to pinpoint when OCD, overthinking, counting, insomnia, and racing thoughts started… perhaps it had all always been there.

Teachers told me not to stress over things so much, then turned around and fussed at me for things created by asthma, dyslexia, and ambidextrousness. My mind was always going, always analyzing, always looking deeper in to things. A combination of music and reading became my own best therapy. Those and art. Losing myself amongst the colors and smells of oil painting was so healing.

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No one fussed when I used both hands to paint, there was no “right answer,” no numbers or letters to turn themselves around. Painting became my solace, until I was told there was no future for me in it. That’s when I stopped painting. I turned to my other escapes–reading and music–to direct my course in High School.

Do you remember middle school? Are you or a loved one IN middle school? Students can be vicious to people who are different. They were that way when our parents were in school, they were that way when we were in school, and they are still that way. It’s a right of passage. Surviving middle school “intact” is like surviving a three year war for some. It was that way for me.

Let me clue you in: I had bifocals, wore hand-me-downs, over thought, over analyzed, sucked at math, loved science, did well in all the arts, sang with the adults at church, talked to my parents’ parents generation more than my own, would rather read a new book than see a movie, and didn’t listen to any of the “popular” music. Sounds fun, huh?!? I’m still that way–all of it.

Depression weighed on my back, anxiety rattled around in my head, OCD made counting steps a THING, I loved lunch trays because NONE of the food touched. I spent more time in the nurse’s office drinking hot tea with honey than I did chatting with classmates. Last year I went through the adult version of this and decided it was time to get some serious help before I lost myself.

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I’ve been in that dark place only one other time. Suicide seemed the best option then: I’d been told repeatedly how worthless I was; I’d been shamed about my weight, my health, my ability to think; I’d been convinced my precious girls would be better off without me. I choose suicide then. It had been in my head since middle school. Last year I chose to do an out patient intensive therapy program for six weeks.

So, why does World Mental Health Day matter to me?

Because it means people are talking about it. Not in a cutesy way, like we sometimes see on TV or on Social Media, but in an open honest way. It means people are willing to learn about the diseases that attack people around them. It means students are learning earlier about how their words and actions may affect others. It means the church is opening up to medication and psychiatric treatment. World Mental Health Day means the stigma is going away. It’s been like watching a curtain rise on  society, a light shining on the things going on behind the scenes of people’s lives.

What does World Mental Health Day mean to you?

Why does World Mental Health Day matter to you?

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