Mental health and self-care are more important than ever in these trying times. As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought writing about it from a Home Economics point of view would be a great way to raise awareness.
Statistics on Mental Health
According to Mental Health America, over 10.3 adult Americans have contemplated suicide. That is a lot of people who are feeling hopeless. I must admit, I have felt this way and attempted it. (More on that later.)
Over 2 million of our children have had Major Depressive Episodes. This is not to be confused with other issues and impairments that seem to be on the rise in our youth (ADD, autism, etc.). Our children are dealing with more chaos but our insurance and awareness of their mental condition is lacking.
The amount of private insurance that does NOT cover Mental Health or emotional difficulties has doubled. We are getting sadder, and our insurance companies do not want to have to deal with it. All jokes aside, it’s like Big Business insurance is a 1950’s father telling us to “suck it up”.
I’m going to get personal here. I am not telling my story for sympathy or to get you to judge me in any way. Life is not easy for anyone, and having heard that someone else may be at the same place as you can be helpful.
I Tried To Die
Almost 3 years ago, I was going through a very dark place in my life. My father was having health issues, I was watching my marriage of over 10 years fall apart around me. Feeling hopeless seems like an understatement about how I viewed the world at that time.
I have to admit to you that I am already diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, a mental health issue that technically is classified as a disability.
Life with Bipolar
To this day, I don’t know if my disorder had anything to do with my suicide attempt or not. I just know that I ended up in the hospital because my heart stopped.
Mental Health and Home Economics
Why do I think that Mental Health and Home Economics go together? Honestly… it’s because of my Home Ec ability that I was saved that day.
Cooking and canning are important parts of my life. My friends and family know that and love what I make. The man who saved my life that day was my next door neighbor, coming over to ask me for some homemade salsa. He heard me fall off of the couch and came inside to find me almost dead. He called 911 and they saved my life.
If it hadn’t been for my homemade salsa, I would not have made it past that day.
Mental Health is Hereditary
Not putting it too personally, as it’s not MY story to tell, but Mental Health issues run in families. I didn’t believe it for a long time either, but then my oldest attempted it also.
He is fine now and even has a semi-colon tattoo to remind him that life is precious. He sees it every time he looks in the mirror to remind him that he tried to rob the world of his presence.
As I realized that is runs in families, I discovered that a lot of my relatives have or have had mental health issues. In my family tree I have Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Substance Abuse issues, and even one family member who committed suicide.
Mental Health Awareness Month and Help
We all are under a tremendous amount of stress in our lives. Even if you do not knowingly have a clinical issue with your mental health, it is important to take care of yourself. You take care of your body, why not your brain?
Mental Health is just as important as your physical well-being. It’s just not as obvious to the outside world as when you have an illness that can be seen. Be aware: sometimes the things you cannot see can be the most dangerous and damaging.
Watch for these signs in yourself and others around you:
- Extreme mood swings
- Showing rage
- Withdrawing or isolating from others
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Substance abuse
- Talking about feeling hopeless or trapped
- Talking about wanting to die
- Feeling like a burden
Mental Health Awareness Month Tools
There are 10 important tools that you can use to make sure that your mental health is as well taken care of as your physical health.
- Connect with Others
- Stay Positive
- Get Physically Active
- Help Others
- Get Enough Sleep
- Create Joy and Satisfaction
- Eat Well
- Take Care of Your Spirit
- Deal Better with Hard Times
- Get Professional Help if you need it
Read more about using these valuable tools by going to Mental Health America here.
YOU are Important.
When you are depressed it is easy to feel alone in the world. You are NOT. There are many people dealing with similar issues who don’t know where to turn or how to “make it stop”. Ask for help. Talk to someone. Do anything you can. You Matter!
One thing about the world today IMHO if that there is not enough empathy for others. The Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated) is not being taught or practiced nearly enough in our society. Be aware of those around you. Just watching for signs in yourself and others can save lives.
And I want everyone to have the opportunity to be saved… just as I was.
Mental Health Resources
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention