I am blogging for mental health

May is Mental Health Month and today in particular is Mental Health Blogging Day.  I am a longtime sufferer of mentalMental Health Blog Party Badge illness and an advocate for awareness and support through the community support website Band Back Together.

I think days like this are important to let others know that they are not alone in their struggles with mental health issues.  Whether you are a sufferer, a friend, a family member, or an acquaintance of someone with a mental health issue, you can educate yourself and others and help make the world a more compassionate and supportive place.

My name is Crystal and I deal with mental illness on a regular basis.

Sometimes I don’t act like ME because I suffer from chronic Depression (diagnosed at age 14), Anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (DES-NOS, specifically).  I attend weekly therapy and take medication to help me manage these issues.  I have difficulties managing my response to stressful situations and memories due to the way that my brain processes information/stimuli – multiple traumas throughout my life have impacted the way I view and experience the world around me.

Despite dealing with these issues for so much of my life, I can still live a normal life – I am not ‘crazy.’  I have a wonderful relationship with my husband and son.  I have a great job at a place I’ve worked for the past 3.5 years.  I have friends and hobbies and many of the same worries that others out there have.

Most days I am a very high functioning individual.  Sometimes I need to step back from my responsibilities a little bit and focus on taking extra care of myself.  There are those days when I can’t get out of bed – on those days I need help from my support network of family and friends.  I have fantastic people in my life who have helped me even when they don’t know it.

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I have heard various awful things said about those who suffer from mental illness over the years, even from people I love.  The stigma of mental illness still leads people to state that they wouldn’t vote for a politician who was known to have a mental disorder, or that those with a mental illness should not have children.  It’s disheartening to hear these things and I’m hopeful that as we speak out, the stigma will lift more and more.

If you or someone you know suffers from a mental illness, please take the time to educate yourself about the symptoms and effects on their life.  If you would like to reach out to a community for support please visit Band Back Together.

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Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.  I attended a WEGO webinar earlier this week to learn how to participate in spreading awareness, so you will likely be seeing some informational posts and/or tweets from me throughout the month.  I’d also like to let you all know that if you have any questions about mental health, particularly in relation to the things I am intimately familiar (Depression, Anxiety, Dissociative Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress, Post-Partum Depression), please feel free to ask.  I have been dealing with these issues for over 15 years and have no problem sharing the wealth of information and resources I’ve collected in the mean time.  It’s important to continue talking about mental health issues to battle stigmas.  [Note: I do have a post written up about a lot of these issues but it is password protected for my family's sake.  If you would like the information to access it, please send me an email.]

While I plan to be involved in the activities to spread awareness throughout May, I am (appropriately?) enmeshed in a depressive episode and my posting may be sporatic.  Depression often creates some brutal writer’s block for me, which is…depressing.  :P   I’m trying to pull back from commitments where I can to focus on getting back on track mentally.  In the mean time, I appreciate your patience and hope that you continue to engage when I *am* around.

If you are looking for mental health resources, the National Institute of Mental Health and WEGO Health Mental Health Community are two great places to start.  In addition, a dear friend of mine Sarahndipitea is a community health educator with WEGO and also writes a weekly column on Savings.com called Balanced that focuses on simple and inexpensive ways to maintain your overall health.

Now, if you wouldn’t mind sharing – how have mental health issues touched your life?  What is your perspective on helping others who suffer from mental health disorders?