May is an observed month for Mental Health Awareness in the United States since 1949.
Though I am not a citizen of America, I share the experience of Mental Illness with the whole world. And sharing my experience is an important point I’d like to advocate for on my blog.
If you are not a follower of my blog, I want you to know that I suffer from Postpartum Depression & Anxiety, OCD that I recently just discovered. The statistics in Canada for women who reported going through postpartum depression is 7.5%. That’s not a huge number in terms of reports of women having it. I say this because, it is not an illness that women/men openly talk about, but this is a very common and unexpected illness that most new parents and parents in general experience in first few years.
Having shared my initial experience of finding out I have it, was a struggle on its own but the outpouring support from the community of bloggers have mostly mentioned how this is not a common topic talked enough about. There isn’t much light being brought to raise awareness of this illness. Just like anyone would be concerned about cancer, this too is an illness that cannot be controlled and should gain the concern it requires.
Its an illness that that hides inside of the person and finds itself free to attack the person at any unexpected moment.
What makes it even worse is the fact that it’s a mental health illness. Just say mental health in your head again, and what comes to mind? A person with an unstable mind? A person who is capable of bad things because they’re not all there, up there? A person who cannot perform their usual duties as a citizen or an individual because their brain cannot function like a ‘normal person’? That’s the stigma talking. That’s also the stigma stuck in my head when I first thought about what it would be like to share this with others.
Individuals who experience some sort of Mental Illness, struggle internally to share in words that would allow the receiver to understand. The truth is, most individuals who experience mental illness cannot always find the words to say without sounding like they are ‘crazy’. Your mind plays tricks on you. You’re not really sure why you’re thinking, what you’re thinking–why you’re irrational, emotional and absolutely out of character. Well it’s a chemical imbalance. Your emotions are all out of whack, even though the issue is with your brain that’s mostly, usually realistic, rational, and stern; with mental illness, none of that is how it’s supposed to be.
Mental illness is not something anyone just fixes for the person suffering. It is not an illness that the individual can just brush off and everything returns to ‘normal’.
It is an illness that cannot be helped (I repeat this because for those who don’t know this is a common misconception).
There are a lot of people who choose to be ignorant about mental illness. Those people who have never experienced it with someone they love or for themselves. People who don’t care enough about the importance of why this illness matters enough to be talked about. Sure back then (40’s, 50’s, maybe early 60’s) this isn’t a thing to be sharing with the world. It means you got sent to an institution because they didn’t have a solution for this. And what they did have for it was more pain.
“Well, here’s the thing..you have to really think outside of your ass in order to really understand this. You’re not going to find it in there. This is just as important to understand as anything else that threatens the value of life.”
Mental illness doesn’t just affect the person who has it but also those dearest to their heart. It affects families. The challenges of this illness takes a tole on each individual members of a family. The tole of this illness is the very thing that makes the feeling of guilt ever so present in motherhood.
HAVING CHILDREN IS NOT THE MAIN CAUSE OF THIS ILLNESS!
There are several factors to why an individual finds themselves with this illness. The majority of women I have been able to connect with who suffer from this illness has openly shared the traces of their sickness reaching back to before they even had children. Having children is one of the factors that contributes at a later time in life, but it is an illness that roots from past experiences. Yes it can be from the sudden change of life experiences, in motherhood but for the most part this illness is traced from what’s already happened that the individual has fought to shove in a box, in the back of their minds. It can be hereditary. Something you didn’t know runs in your family bloodline. For someone who’s not aware of her roots, this is something I cannot trace back to roots. One thing I am certain of though is that, I’ve a lot of pent up anger that roots from my childhood that I kept in an box inside, far back that has now found its way creeping in on top of all the other stressor accompanying motherhood.
If you know anyone who appears to be having a hard time emotionally, please offer to listen. Don’t judge or start diagnosing someone of what YOU THINK the problem is, but rather provide resources of different types of help they can seek professionally that may more helpful.
There are a ton of people, communities who advocate for the awareness of this illness and mental illness in general. Please educate yourself if you’re uncertain of what mental illness is and how it affects a person. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t be judgemental because I can guarantee you, this is not my choice! No one wants to suffer emotionally and psychologically.