May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I have the honor to share insights from my friend Emma on the unique struggles that affect the daily lives of people who are dealing with mental health challenges. Creating awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding these challenges is crucial in order to promote understanding, empathy and resources for those who struggle with their mental health as well as prioritizing mental wellness while providing support for those who need it.
When Emma was 8, she wrestled with understanding why she was she was so different than her friends in her thoughts, moods and behavior. She was eventually diagnosed as having Type One Bipolar with Psychosis.
Emma, now 18, explains that her mental health greatly depends on the seasons and the beginning of spring, fall and winter are very hard. She compares it to her first car accident where her small car ran into a pick-up truck unexpectedly. She said, “I was going a little too fast and did not see it coming. Thankfully, I only hit his trailer hitch and no one was hurt.”
Her fall depression and spring mania come with the same suddenness. She also says of the seasons, “Depending on the season, I can’t sleep or all I want to do is sleep. I know the same happens to many others. Now, I know exactly what to do.”
She advises, “If you know the feeling of seasonal dread, or are even going through a tough time, I highly encourage you to take a walk outside, or just sit in the sun. I never believed anyone when they said the sun is a stimulant and a soother, but it is. Also, if you live by water, go out and enjoy it. I feel the most at peace when I can hear water crash.”
Mental health is just as important as physical health and seeking help for mental health is a sign of strength not weakness. Emma wants all to know, “Whether you, a family member, friend, partner or someone else struggles with their mental health, you are not alone.”
All of us have a story and I want to tell yours! Send them to [email protected]