Today is World Mental Health Day and the theme for this year is “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access”. Mental Health and illnesses should be top tier on every country’s list!
Here in the Caribbean, the older generations see mental illnesses specifically depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and mood disorders as ‘white people problems’ they don’t believe we as black young adults or teenagers have a reason to be depressed. Caribbean parenting and culture are like this: you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food to eat, therefore, everything is great and you have nothing to be depressed about because you have life easy.
I think when something is emphasized and is a priority in society it becomes important to the people in it and I believe that the Caribbean system did not make mental health a priority in the early years so ignorance manifested generations after generations and now we have to face this harsh, built-up stigma. One of the good things about our generation is we have the ability to generate change on any scale (small or large) and over the last few years our collective influence and power can clearly be seen; mental health awareness has become a topic of discussion in many countries even the ones that like to pretend it doesn’t exist.
I didn’t know I was struggling with my mental health when I was younger, I thought what I was going through was a phase of uncertainty and teenage hormones because no one talked to me about good or bad mental health so I was oblivious to the signs of deterioration. 7th-8th grade verbal bullying was destroying the little self-confidence I was trying to build, social anxiety turned into 6 a.m. panic attacks whenever I woke up for school then self-hatred settled in. I spiraled for years attempting suicide after suicide, writing awful things about myself on my skin, and allowed depression to keep me in a dark place, suffering in silence.
Persons struggling with their mental health and who have a mental illness do this a lot, suffer in silence. We are so afraid to lean on someone else because we don’t want to be a burden, we don’t want to be ‘that friend or family member that’s struggling’ it makes us feel weak and vulnerable.
GUESS WHAT? It’s okay to feel weak, it’s okay to battle with your mind it doesn’t make you any less human. Let’s normalize confiding in someone you trust about what you are going through, normalize therapy, and the idea that men have mental issues too. Persons with mental illnesses aren’t crazy they are struggling, be compassionate, kind, and understanding. Educate yourself, spread awareness, and move with the movement.
The world has enough darkness in it right now so be a shimmering light! Go check on your family and friends see how they are doing, have a good weekend, and be kind to one another.
THANKS FOR READING 💕