Labels lie. It’s one of my favorite posters in my office that I took off the walls of my graduate school over 10 years ago (after the promotion was over off course). I love it because it’s a reminder that while labels give us a general description of what’s happening, it doesn’t always tell us the whole story, yet we like to judge by a tag.
If you suffer from mental illness it doesn’t mean you are #crazy, broken or less than, those are lies. The truth is there is a wide spectrum of emotional distress ranging from appropriate sadness caused by a traumatic event to psychosis. Mental health is parallel to physical health, and just like your body can break down, so can your mind. It might sound like “this is hard”, “I don’t feel well”, “I can’t”, “I’m tired”, “It’s my fault”, “I can’t focus” or “leave me alone”. It can look like over sleeping, thoughts of dying, excessive thoughts, extreme happiness, heart conditions, GI distress, painful memories and more. 1 in 5 Americans have had some sort of mental health experience. African American’s in particular are struggling with mental health issues (like high rates of depression for women), yet are less likely than other groups to even acknowledge that mental health is a serious problem. We are human and have to deal with this thing called life and we aren’t always equipped for it. Without good mental health we are mentally broke.
Think about it- if I had asthma and couldn’t breathe, would you say something was wrong with me if I couldn’t get air into my lungs? It doesn’t matter if you tell me to try harder or look at me funny, if my lungs will not cooperate, it is beyond my control and I will not be able to breathe. At a certain point I have to get help. I would need to know strategies to breath to maximize oxygen to my lungs and I may have to puff on that pump so that I can live. Stop believing your mental health is any different and get help for what you CAN learn to change. Educate yourself, choose to speak your truth, don’t live in shame, be compassionate to yourself and others, and remember your words have the power to build barriers or open doors.
It’s OK to get help. Numbers to add to your phone:
- Call NYC Well Today for 24/7 mental health support right in NY: Suicide prevention and crisis counseling, mobile crisis, short-term counseling, and assistance accessing other mental health services. 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), Press 2 or text
- Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R: For therapy, advice and referrals to local programs for adults and children: 347-868-7813
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R