3 In Anxiety/ Depression/ Mental Health/ Self-care

Raising Mental Health Awareness

Raising Mental Health Awareness

As a mental health advocate, I’d planned a number of things as part of Mental Health Week 2016.

A series of posts. Bombarding social media. Sharing info and resources. Even attending events in person (I know right – this introvert planned to step-out-of-the- house!).

Well, plans being plans, it all fell in a heap due to the passing of a loved one from suicide (the 3rd in 4 years).

Fuck.

Hell, I don’t care that I’m missing events. I don’t care that I missed the opportunity to produce some pretty awesome content. I don’t event care that I missed the chance to make some good connections.

None of it matters.

None of it.

What does matter is that I’m left wondering what I could have done, again.

If I could have said something.

Could I have done something?

Could I have helped with something?

Could I have got off my ass, stepped away from the computer, or work, and the rest, to take some time out to spend with that person. I mean, if anyone could have seen the signs, recognised what the person was going through, it should have been me, right?

But that’s what suicide does.

It leaves you thinking.

It leaves you wondering.

It leaves you asking ‘what more‘ and ‘why‘?

Those thoughts are a natural response to a traumatic event.

 

If you don't want to see it, I'm sorry, but I need to do my bit to stand up to stigma by speaking openly about mental health and by sharing my own experiences, both with having a mental illness, and losing loved ones to mental illness.

 

Standing up to stigma

Some people have mentioned to me over the years how the public domain ain’t the forum for this kind of sharing, and that it makes them uncomfortable. Or that they don’t want to see it.

Every time I post about mental health people unfollow me. They unsubscribe. They unlike.

Fair call.

If you don’t want to see it, I’m sorry, but I need to do my bit to stand up to stigma by speaking openly about mental health and by sharing my own experiences, both with having a mental illness, and losing loved ones to mental illness.

Why?

Because stigma hurts. And its effects can be lasting. I’m a walking testament to that. It was 1995 when it was first mentioned to me that I might have depression, but it took years to seek the treatment I needed and to recover.

I’ve said it a few times before. Life is hard. And a a lot of us struggle with it. So it’s important to realise that this doesn’t mean you are weak.

It doesn’t mean you are a failure.

It also doesn’t mean you can’t recover and go on to live a fulfilling life, because you can!

Mental illness is not a life sentence. Most people will recover completely and go on to live full and productive lives. There are various treatments available to enable people to manage their symptoms/illness.

And finally, having a mental illness is also NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Reach out, speak up

I encourage you to speak up, to share your experiences, and to seek help if needed. Actually, even if you think you don’t need it – if something isn’t seeming ‘right’ talk to someone! Seek help! (Check out the deets at the end of this post).

I encourage you to practice some self-care. After all, mental health begins with ME.

 

Mental health begins with me

 

I remind you that no J-O-B is more important than you health. Actually pretty much nothing is (okay, that’s a reminder to myself too).

And lastly I ask you to check on the men in your life, and to KEEP CHECKING, because a lot of them can be bloody stubborn, quiet and unsuspecting. There is also still a lot of stigma preventing them from reaching out.

For some tips to help you nurture your mental health, check out my extensive Pinterest board.

 


 

If the content of this article has caused you distress, please seek advice from a support service in your country.

24/7 crisis support (Australia)

24/7 crisis support (US) toll free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Alisa
    October 14, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Thank you for this post, Janine. I’m in awe that you were able to string words together at such a horrific time.
    I lost my Mum to mental illness almost two years ago after a very long battle. I’m receiving some assistance to help re-frame thoughts and habits as I’m prone to anxiety and depression tendencies. After getting over the initial grief, there is a mix of feelings, one being rejection because my mother decided me, my sis and others weren’t enough to live for. I also recognise mental illness can be like a cancer, except there is no scan to tell how far the illness has spread and eaten that person away. Some go into ‘remission’ and that’s awesome. I guess that conceptualisation helps me to separate the illness from the person. The Mum I knew would never leave. Mental illness not only effects the person suffering but also the people who are effectively ‘carers’ in these situations. It’s been extremely tough. I don’t ever want to hear the bashing on my front door by police officers ever again.
    I really hope you’re okay, Janine. I hope you have all the love and support you need at this time. xo

    • Janine Ripper
      October 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Hi Alisa, Your message really touched me this morning after a sleepless night and anxiety. Off to see my Mum tonight and spend time with the family before the funeral on Monday. Thanks for sharing your story. I can only imagine this is something you never recover from fully, but like (like…cant think of another word right now) how you describe mental illness as a cancer… and I agree it depends how far it has eaten that person away. I’ll be okay in time, although this has given me another reality check in how much time I don’t spend with my family and I am filled with regret. Thanks again. Your words mean so much today. Janine x

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    December 25, 2016 at 6:25 pm

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