Have you noticed all the headlines about mental health these days?
Prince Harry opens up about his 20-year mental struggle.
Mental health issues on the rise even as Pandemic eases its grip.
Alleged cop killer suffered mental illness after losing job, mother says.
The most common postpartum mental health issues and how to spot them.
I grew up during a time when the words breakdown and depression were shamefully taboo and anyone who showed signs of mental illness were to be shunned by polite society.
Today's a different story.
Now people are jumping aboard the mental illness bandwagon on a daily basis, eagerly sharing their anxiety tales on social media to a supportive chorus of "Really? Me, too!"
Speaking of stories, I've been doing a lot of research about depression because my protagonist in Moonwater Beach discovers that her late mother—the beloved town nurse—was secretly bipolar. It's a sobering discovery when you learn the woman who was devoted to the welfare of others was in tremendous pain.
Even writers get the blues
Ernest Hemingway was an alcoholic who died from a self-inflicted bullet. Virginia Woolf suffered from depression and ended her life in a suicidal drowning. A chronically depressed Sylvia Plath committed suicide by sticking her head in the oven. I've also read that Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens suffered from mental illness.
Compared to them, I'm pretty lucky. I've had my share of personal anquish but I've never struggled with major depression, although I have been sad, stressed, angry, and frustrated at times. But isn't that part of the human experience? Fortunately, my low moments do not last long because I work through them with meditation and writing.
So how can you take charge of your own mental health?
The first step is to face the stigma and realize you are not alone. Did you know that May is Mental Health Month? Here are some interesting statistics I learned about mental illness from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
Fortunately, there are many options available to address mental disorder, beginning with professional treatment. Some people deal with their disorders by practicing music and art therapy, meditation, yoga, breathwork, and daily journaling.
We all have stress, but much of it can be managed by improving our diet and exercise habits. However, long-term stress can be harmful, which is why we should seek professional guidance.
I'm not a physician, but I do know how to breathe and that is why I am happy to share my Blue Sky Color Breathing meditation for temporary anxiety relief.
Just click the play button (below), think of the color Blue—and feel better!
If you're feeling depressed or suicidal, please see a professional therapist or contact MentalHelp.net for immediate assistance.