It’s that time of year again: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In my personal and professional opinion, I think mental health should be a topic of everyday conversation. We are losing lives to suicide and mental illness every day, yet it seems some people are still living in fear about talking about their struggles.
For a long time, I was one of those people. Then, after much consultation and support, I decided that for me to fully embrace who I was, I needed to disclose my lifelong struggles with my own mental health. I wanted to share my story because I believe sharing our stories can prevent the loss of lives and normalize the reality that all of us can struggle with both mental and physical health.
On a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, I was reflecting upon just how far I have come. I was filled with such gratitude for my wellness team, which took me a great deal of time to create and has been such an important pillar of my wellness. The team consists of therapists, mentors, and holistic practitioners.
This view from a place of healing was much more inviting than when I was in the depths of despair. I thought to myself, here I was at the top of the Grand Canyon amidst this beautiful multilayered majestic masterpiece, reflecting upon the fact that I was alive. I allowed myself to take deep breaths. I felt my feet grounded and anchored in myself with the warmth of the sun upon my face.
However, life hadn't always felt this glorious and beautiful. Just five years prior, I was in the hospital after an attempt on my own life. I spent many years of my life suffering from silent suicidal ideation and was too afraid to tell anyone.
Looking back, I wish I would have opened up and asked for help sooner. I wish I would have called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at the very first warning sign. The number, just so you have it for yourselves, is 1-800-273-8255. I know how hard it is to ask for help but I hope that you do because your life is worth fighting for.
You matter, your life matters, and no matter how intense the pain is, you deserve help and you deserve to heal. Don’t let the pain take you out. Help and support are out there for you. Sometimes we just have to keep searching until we find the right help.
For those of you who have a loved one battling a mental health concern, I invite you to check in with them. Let them know you care and that they are loved. You would be surprised at the power of a loving text message, heartfelt voice memo, or greeting card for someone that is struggling. To be shown care, compassion, empathy, and love can go miles for someone feeling alone. If you have ever been in that dark place, offer support to those that are there right now. Let them know they are not a burden and that you are there and that you get it. To be seen, to be heard, and to be validated can offer someone healing and hope.
I was blessed that my husband fought for my life and found resources for me when I was unable. Yes, even I, a licensed psychologist, needed to surrender to the help of a loved one and wellness team, I am so glad I did. I am blessed to be alive and on this earth to continue to bring hope and inspiration.
Hiking out of the Grand Canyon brought a feeling of aliveness that I would have never experienced had I given up five years ago. Please keep going. Keep living. Life can get better. I am holding onto hope in my heart for you. You matter and someday your story of overcoming the depths of pain just might be the door to someone else's healing process. We are all experiencing this crazy thing we call life together. Don't give up. Ask for help.
If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, seek help immediately. For help 24/7 contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. To find a therapist near you, see the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.