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Helping someone with mental illness requires compassion, understanding and a caring heart
Sarcastically Southern
mental health help

Hard work. Two simple words that carry a lot of meaning and a variety of definitions.

All jobs in the construction world are under-appreciated – it's hot, everyone is in a hurry and it’s a lot of repetitive motions that can be hard on the body.

Working in customer service is hard. Having to hide your emotions when you’re having a bad day, and a customer is getting on your nerves can make it hard to unbottle those emotions later.

Being a part of law enforcement or first responders must be difficult. I can’t imagine the trauma they see day in and day out, as well as the emotional distress it causes them.

But you know what makes even the easiest job hard? Mental Illness.

October is National Mental Health Awareness Month and I could not pass up the opportunity to share with readers some of the things I have learned over the years of having my own mental health struggles, watching friends battle with their own and knowing that somewhere, someone is committing suicide every 10.9 minutes.

I described several examples of professions that are undoubtedly hard. But there are so many other things that are hard work.

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work. I’ve never had the opportunity to do it, but I can imagine it can be difficult to be cooped up at home with only cartoons and crying babies to keep you company. And I’m sure it can be lonely.

Getting out of bed in the morning when you suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain is hard work. And battling these things makes hard jobs even harder work.

I’ve always been open in my columns about having struggles with anxiety and infertility. Both topics can be considered taboo – even in today’s more open and honest society.

I’m making some generalized statements here based on knowledge from friends and yes, from some social media posts made by friends and some celebrities and the like, not a whole lot of research.

Women, statistically, tend to be brushed off by friends or family when they are discussing mental health struggles. We’re considered “dramatic” or “up tight,” or any other phrase that can be used to diminish the actual struggles we’re going through.

Men are typically told to “toughen up” and considered less of a man if they show too much emotion.

I cannot imagine the absolute hell that minorities go through to receive help for their trauma or mental health issues. In the Caucasian community, it’s still not talked about as frequently or as openly as it should be. But in other demographic communities, it’s just not believed in.

Add into that the fact that sexuality can play a role in the way others are treated and the way they view themselves and the world around them, and those that struggle with mental health gets even greater.

In some religions, mental health isn’t considered something that should have an effect on people – it's as easy as praying it away. I know that in Philippians 4:6, The Bible says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

My grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher and he’d probably have my hide for this, but while I believe that we can cast those worries away, occasionally, we need some help with the chemical imbalances in our brains that cause that extra worry and trouble. Sometimes, we need to get help from a worldly physician guided by The Great Physician.

I am overjoyed that some people can control their issues through the power of prayer and worship.

However, I also believe that we should not suffer alone – and if a medical doctor has reason to diagnose you with a mental illness, it should mean that you should get the support you need – if that’s prayer, prescriptions or a couple extra hours of sleep, what works for you should be accepted by those that love you and care for you.

Some individuals carry with them a traumatic childhood of abuse, neglect and more. Some of us carry chronic illnesses like endometriosis or Crohn’s disease around with them. Some carry an extra weight of anxiety, self-doubt and depression.

No matter what we’re all carrying, we should probably realize that everyone’s issues are heavy to them and just because the load we carry is greater, it doesn’t mean that someone else’s load isn’t the most that they can carry.

Check in on your friends when you know they’re struggling. As they approach unwanted anniversaries (like a parent’s death), as they suffer through miscarriage, struggle through a transition of leaving the work force and retiring, go through a divorce, graduate from high school or college... heck, just check in on people you care about.

Some of us just struggle day to day and it doesn’t have to be a “special” occasion. I’ve seen a tongue-in-cheek meme before about the holidays...that it’s time to “change to my fancy holiday anxiety” instead of the everyday anxiety – and I’m here to tell you that feeling is real.

We all have our weights to carry...why not help each other carry them rather than add more weight to someone else?