World Mental Health Day October 10, 2018 – Posted in: Everyday Living

Today is World Mental Health Day so I thought to put down a few words towards that as it’s important that people recognize and understand that this is something that exists in the world, in West Africa, in Nigeria, in your neighborhood and sometimes even in your home. To ignore it is not is not to eradicate it, it’s simply silencing something that is already so difficult to contain and the worst way to treat a person that is already being betrayed by his or her mind is to also take their voice away.

People live with mental health issues even when they don’t wear it on their sleeves or talk much about it. They exist and they’re real. Depression is not weakness or laziness, anxiety is not stubborn or unchristian, eating disorders are not vanity, multiple personalities is not madness. These are real things and shame on you if you haven’t taken the time to educate yourself.

We are the sum of our experiences so it’s only natural that the people we surround ourselves with will have a role to play in the way our mind’s function – negative or positive. You have the power to have a negative or positive impact on someone’s mind for life; it is my hope that you always choose to be kind, to be gentle, to encourage, to be cautious with words even in anger, to choose to be soft instead of hard, to correct with love.

If you’re living with a mental illness,  I’ve made a list of 10 things to note today and to always keep at the forefront of your mind –

  1. You are your own priority – Often times people with mental health issues will learn to shrink themselves in order to occupy as little space as possible so as not to be a burden to loved ones and to the world at large. Please understand that the life you live is yours; do not make yourself little to avoid another person’s discomfort, People are stronger than you think and are capable of taking care of themselves and their own personal discomfort. Make yourself your own priority, care for yourself, look out for you. Everyone else go dey alright
  2. It’s ok to reach out for help – Part of not wanting to be a burden is not bringing heavy things to spaces that you share with the people in your life. In my opinion, part of having a loved one is someone to share the ups and the downs with, be it family, friend or lover. I consider it a right. A chosen person is someone you intentionally choose to allow into your life; part of that is reaching out to them for help when it’s needed and understanding that they have the capacity to be there for you as much as they can. If you’re in Nigeria and you’re looking for who to reach out to, MANI is doing a great job with raising awareness and helping people struggling, if you reach out to them, you’ll find that someone will accept your outreach and will pull you in and help in the best possible way.
  3. You are not too much love – Every time I’ve heard someone say ‘I know I’m too much or I’m sorry I’m sad all the time, it breaks my heart. You should never apologize for being ill in one way or another. You as you are – you’re just the right quantity to make up who you are and you should never ever ever apologize for that. Too much according to what behavioural chart? Created by whom? You are not too much and the world would definitely not be a better place without you in it.
  4. It’s not ok to be mean and hide behind your illness – There are some people that are intentionally spiteful or bitter, always hiding behind ‘well, you know that’s just how I am’, well; that might be how your illness is but it is not the entire sum of who you are. The first step is identifying that you have a problem, the second step is understanding it’s root and the third step is working on healing and being intentional about that. Sure there will be hard days but being ill does not give you the right to be an ass. As much as you want to protect yourself and be your own priority, try to protect the people that stand still next to you despite the good days and the bad days
  5. Seek help – Help looks like different things to different people. Some people lean to medication and others lean to therapy, some people lean to surrounding themselves with love and others lean to introspection and isolation. Whatever works for you, lean towards that. Mental illness is an illness and just like all illnesses, it needs to be treated so you can move towards living a balanced life. In all the ways that’s available, seek help. If your needs change, it’s ok for the ways you need help to change also.
  6. Avoid triggers – Some people have obvious triggers and others do not. As much as possible, avoid spaces that trigger you. Avoid people that trigger you regardless of who they are and how long you’ve known them. Avoid spaces that are dangerous for you because a physical space can be as endangered as a person. Even when these things hurt to do, they are what’s best for you and your health in the long run so do not carry the burden of guilt for cutting off people that made you feel unsafe.

Add these things to what you already personally know to be true. My desire is that you learn to be gentle with self, that you find reasons to remain here daily, that you have more happy days than sad ones, that you find a passion to pour all the tense into and that you find love that sees you and stays by you.

To the people that love people living with mental illnesses, I admire you and I encourage you.

Love x Light,

N.