maybe you heard it from me, maybe not.
but #mentalhealth is getting some awareness now.
Like… its kinda, sorta a thing.
I think it’s cool that it is a thing. Though I admit, I haven’t always thought this way.
From an early age, I got an idea of what a therapy session looked like. That’s if you count movie scenes I watched growing up like Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday, and the infamous Stepbrothers therapy session with Will Ferrell.
This idea that I had of counseling was associated with an awkwardness that didn’t exactly compel me to ever want to make an appointment with one.
I remember in high school my parents took it upon themselves to schedule an appointment for me.
Let me tell you how I was not having it, and everybody was gonna find out, even the psychologist himself!
I threw a fit when I found out that it wasn’t actually the orthodontist that I got out of school early for to go see that day.
“Why do I need to go talk to somebody about MY problems? First of all, I don’t have problems. Besides, what sense does it make to talk to a complete stranger…about my problems that he’s got nothing to do with?”
I wasn’t having it.
The next time I learned about mental health was my first semester as a sophomore in college.
My psychology teacher used to be soooo mad when I walked in late. And I would be even more upset looking at her with my eyes stuck between the *side-eye* emoji & the *rolls eyes* emoji because the whole class could see I was on crutches, and struggling. The last thing I cared about was getting to class on time.
Towards the end of that semester, I learned about bipolar/manic 1 disorder, apart from the class, in my own special way. I won’t give you the whole scoop right now, but basically a person with this disorder will have had at least one time in their life where they become uncontrollably elevated in mood. This high energy is accompanied with abnormal behavior like insomnia, talking fast, self-medicating, promiscuity and extreme anxiety. The person will also experience extended periods of depression, living a “normal” life in between patterned cycles of mania and depression.
If you’re just now learning about this illness and you’re anything like me, you’ve probably concluded, “everyone is mental.”
Ok… that might just be me, but hear me out because it definitely can be difficult to tell the difference between a manic person and someone that is sane.
When I was first diagnosed as manic/depressive, nobody really knew. My family, nearly three-thousand miles away at the time, were probably the only ones that had an idea that I was projecting symptoms of abnormal behavior — I was calling home way more often and actually seemed excited when speaking to them. All of my professors & peers just recognized me as same ol’ happy-go-lucky, goofy-ass Brooke in the days leading up to my hospitalization at a behavioral health clinic.
But there was definitely something off about me, something that I couldn’t even recognize in that moment. In my state of mania, my thoughts jumped from one to the next, and there’s no telling what I was capable of doing in each moment.
That’s the dangerous thing about this disorder: it can be pretty difficult to recognize, especially if you’re not aware of it.
And that is why I think it’s cool that more people are talking about mental health.
One of the most interesting things to me is that the first thing a doctor will ask when evaluating the mental state of a patient is, “Are you feeling suicidal/homicidal?” In the event that you say yes, they would probably provide you with more help and attention.
It makes me question why a mental health screening wouldn’t be mandatory for everyone, especially to those who want to obtain a gun-holding license. (I guess that would start with free healthcare for all, but that’s another topic for another day.)
But, honestly… with all of the tragic news we hear about day-in and day-out, I can only help but wonder how many people are actually living with this disorder and don’t recognize it, or haven’t been as lucky as I was to get diagnosed.
Trust me, it was against my will when I was first learned I had a issues with balancing my mental health. My parents and coaches forced me to drop my classes the following semester, and attend psychology sessions the entire time. I probably even called my doctor crazy a time or two for having everyone believing I was crazy, but a part of me also knows that my knowledge of this illness is what kept me alive and provided me with the support system that I needed.
I want to encourage anyone reading this that has access to a psychologist/therapist/counselor to give it a try! You seriously have nothing to lose and nothing to be ashamed of. And if you are ashamed, go watch Freaky Friday again and you’ll see that even the counselor has their own problems. But sometimes it’s necessary to get a helpful & healthy perspective from an unbiased, trained professional that can help you deal with some of the things that keep your mind boggled! The mind can be very powerful and quite tricky; it is absolutely okay and normal to seek solutions and outside help! Don’t wait until you’ve no longer got a hold of your thoughts! Hey, maybe you can even be an example for the next person struggling to maneuver through life!