"Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose." --Brene Brown
I find this quote to be very apropos of National Mental Health Day, because in order for there to BE a Mental Health Day people have to TALK OPENLY about mental health; to become vulnerable with their inner most issues. Many people don't for myriad of reasons. I didn't for many, many years. I figured that if I didn't talk about it then people wouldn't notice it and I would be considered normal. But honestly, what is normal?
The Webster Dictionary defines normal as, "1. According with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle: The normal way to pluralize a noun is by adding -s. 2. Conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern: normal working hours; He had abnormal childhood. 3. Occurring naturally."
So let's think about those definitions for a minute. Definition 1 talks about following arbitrarily set standards. Who made them the right way to do things? Can we trace it back? Probably, but I am not in the mood to do that right now. Definition 2 talks about being similar and alike to one another, either people or things. And definition 3 talks about things that happen naturally, without outside interference.
Um, does anyone see anything interesting about all three definitions? I DO!!!!! I notice that they ALL related to having things that are beyond your control. You don't choose to have something happen naturally, without outside interference. It just happens. Um, I for sure DID NOT choose to live with Bipolar Disorder. It happened WITHOUT outside interference. Now, yes, I am aware of the nature vs. nurture debate. But let me tell you, Bipolar Disorder WAS NOT a choice!!!! Nobody interfered with my development and presto my brain turned wonky. I guarantee you that. My sister and I were raised exactly the same and I am living with Bipolar Disorder and my sister is not. What do you have to say to that Webster's Dictionary?!?
Now this fact I will trace back. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in America 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given years. That doesn't even account for those of us who live with a mental illness year after year after year. 2.6% of us live with Bipolar Disorder. 6.9% of us live with major depression. 18.1% of us live with anxiety disorder. 43.8 million American adults.....that breaks down to a heck of a lot of us who are "conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern" wouldn't you say? How is this so normal and yet is so under-discussed and under-funded?
And so we are left with one option, "engagement" according to Brene Brown. We MUST engage in the mental health dialogue. We MUST become involved in the fight to give mental health higher billing in the national budget. We MUST get talking. Please look around you. Out of your cadre of friends, relations, and acquaintances, how many do you think fall into the 43.8 million Americans living with a mental illness. You probably won't be able to tell because based on Webster's Dictionary, mental illness does fall under the definition of normal. But if you look a little deeper you will see someone in pain, just trying to make it through the day, or the hour, or the minute. You will see if you truly look.
Please make this National Mental Health Day one where you DO get involved. Even if that involvement is reaching out to offer a shoulder to lean on, or cry on if the timing is right. Get involved by reaching out to to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Get involved by simply tell a friend that you realize they are going through something tough and you are here for WHEN they are ready to talk about it. Get involved by being a safe haven for anyone dealing with something that makes them feel ab-normal. Reassure them that they are anything but.
Put your money where your mouth is if you are in a position to do so, support your local NAMI Charter today.
Why I'm Blogging
Just your average 40 something trying to find the way in which she can make sense of her life. I hope you'll join me for this journey.