World Mental Health Day: Key Points From Social Media

Today is World Mental Health Day!

It is a day to raise awareness on mental health illnesses. For others, it is celebration of triumph over diseases and conditions that strike at the heart of our being.

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Many people probably didn’t notice this day or even know much about it. That sounds eerily similar to the indifference observed when it comes to issues of mental health.

But you know what, that’s okay. Sometimes, unless you have been touched by a situation, a person, a condition, or a disease, it is unlikely that you will care a lot (or at all) about a certain issue. That’s why it is important to speak up and let others know what’s going on. Here is where social media comes in.

Key Points from Social Media about Mental Health

The interesting lesson from today is that a lot of people DO CARE about mental health issues. Just browsing around social media, you realize that you are just one voice among many; hoping that other people will awaken to the reality that mental illnesses are among us and there are those struggling everyday with such issues.

Here is a list of some of the key points that people shared:

  1. Mental Health is just as important as Physical Health

One of the greatest frustrations for those who know about mental health issues is that people don’t think it matters as much as physical health. Check your blood pressure; check your heart beat. But no one is wondering about the mind.

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The brain can get sick just like any other part of the body.

Just look around the internet and you will see more “work out your body” pieces and few “mental workout programs”. It’s just not as important.

We are here to say “Mental Health is Very Important”.

  1. Mental Illness does not discriminate

It does not matter who you are, what you do, where you are from, who you know or how much you workout, mental illness can affect anyone.

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Knowing this should make people stop all the name calling, shaming and stigmatizing because mental illness can affect you as well as your friends and loved ones.

  1. People should stop trivializing Mental Health

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Have you ever heard a statement that sounds something like this: “I didn’t have anything to do today; I’m sooo [sic] depressed”? This is just one of the things people do. They don’t understand that there is a world of difference between simply being sad (or bored) and being depressed.

There were other comments on social media such as “Bipolar disorder is not being moody”. These are just a few examples of how people trivialize issues that affect many lives. If people had any idea what others go through – how much pain and sadness others feel as they are struggling with mental illnesses – then they would show more compassion.

  1. You are NOT Alone

I’ve said it before but when you are going through a mental health issue, it is easy to feel that you are the only one suffering; That life chose to punish you.

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The reality is that there are many other people from all over the world going through their own version of pain. Like you, they have had to suffer in silence. When they tried to raise their voices, they were shamed. People just don’t understand until they have walked a mile in your shoes.

But fear not; you are not alone. There are many people who have a sense of what you are going through. There are many organizations and groups geared toward raising awareness and helping to find solutions for mental problems.

  1. Take care of your health

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Another point was that people need to take responsibility for their health. Go for check ups, analyze your family’s mental health history, take the medicine prescribed to you for your mental illness and educate yourself on mental health.

  1. There is a lot of support out there

Who do you turn to when your life is in turmoil? As I have said before, it is good to have a support system around you.

The beauty of our interconnected world means that you can join support groups online and you can meet people going through similar mental illnesses and exchange ideas.

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It was also great to see comments from people who have had mental health problems encouraging others and saying things like “You are not alone” and “Things get better eventually”.

Take heart and believe that you will find a way to manage your condition or cope with a loved one’s struggle with illness. It will not be easy, but you can find a way.

Takeaway

It is great to see a lot of people united in spreading the message of love for those with mental health problems. No matter what problem you have, do not be ashamed; it was not your choice to become mentally ill.

We love you and wish you well.

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2015: The Keys to a Healthier You

The new year brings a sense of pride in having survived 2014 and a sense of optimism for what the future holds in store in 2015.

There are those who are excited about what they are setting out to accomplish, whereas others are merely trudging along, dealing with situations in their lives as they arise. For those with mental health issues or know someone with a mental health problem, life is looked upon with different eyes. There are challenges that seem more daunting than they really are while others are simply overwhelming.

Looking to the future

This year, 2015, provides a great opportunity to utilize all the information we have gathered in the previous year to set ourselves on the path of being healthy. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Go for a medical check-up

With sky-rocketing costs of medicine and healthcare insurance premiums, it is easy to avoid visiting the hospital when you are ‘feeling fine’. There are many diseases which don’t exhibit any symptoms until your immune system is fully compromised and overwhelmed. Going to the hospital for a check-up has helped a lot of people to spot life-threatening diseases before they took hold over the body. So, no matter what the prices look like, remember that you are saving yourself more money by knowing the status of your health.

As recently mentioned, you can ask your doctor to test for the MTFHR gene mutation which will give you a heads up on whether your family will be beset with mental health issues. While some mental health issues can be linked with one’s lifestyle, the key cause of mental health issues lies within this gene mutation. You can spare your family a lot of heartache by getting tested and knowing your status, so that you can live responsibly and also so that you can be better taken care of. It is always better to know the monster you are facing.

  1. Learn to Manage Stress

Stress is an essential component of our lives. It makes us more aware of our decisions and choices, and it also helps us identify problems and solve them. In our society today, stress can become unmanageable to the extent that one’s quality of life deteriorates. Stress affects relationships, hinders personal development and even weakens the body’s immune system thus making people prone to diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

You need to find ways of managing stress. The first thing you should do is identify the stressors and take charge. If you are always reacting to the stress that means you are not in control of your life. Be more assertive and don’t take on more than you can handle. But most importantly, you should approach any problem with a positive attitude and perspective.

  1. Keep depression at bay

Depression is a silent killer. Many people never know they are depressed until their lives break down completely. Other people never know that someone – including a loved one – is suffering from depression until that person shares their problem or attempts to commit suicide. Everyone is going through some sort of struggle and it is easy to suffer in silence because no one seems to care about you.

Stay healthy and free from depression by managing your stress better. Ensure that you maintain your social life and interact with other people. Go outside and get some sunshine and some fresh air. Find a purpose in life that excites you and pursue it. These are just some ideas to tackle depression before it ruins your life.

For more information on how to keep depression at bay, you can read my article here.

  1. Help others. It will help you.

We spend our whole lives focussing on ourselves: our problems, our relationships, our happiness etc. There’s just too much going on in our lives to focus on other people. Life however shows that by helping others, we help ourselves. Once you shift your focus from your life and struggles and focus on someone else, you begin to see life in different eyes. You get a new perspective on what is important in life.

One issue that I highlighted last year was that, people don’t ask others how they are doing. Sometimes people struggle in silence and it takes someone who cares to understand them and uplift their spirits by sharing in their pain. Aim to be that person this year. It will work wonders on your health as you will have different approach to life. Empathising with others also gifts you a mental fortitude to help you in your life’s journey.

  1. Keep your mind active

Parkinson’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease. These are all mental health diseases that have brought fear and pain to our society. Some mental health illnesses can be kept at bay by constantly keeping your brain active. This year, choose to become a reader. Read a lot and gather a lot of information. Analyse things in your mind and challenge your brain to solve complex issues and recall information.

There is a fear amongst people that as you get older, your memory wanes. Well, if you don’t exercise your brain, this issue will become your reality sooner rather than later. Exercise your mind. It will protect you from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Staying healthy this year and beyond, is important not only for you but for the people who love you. Keep yourself healthy and have a positive outlook on life. Things are not always as bad as they seem.

Happy New Year. Have a Blessed 2015!

What is the Point of Living?

There are many reasons why people start considering suicide. It all starts when a series of questions play out in the mind:

Why are you here? Why are you alive? Why are you the only one who survived that accident? What about all the people we have lost? Are you more special than others? What is the point of living?

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These are the questions that engulf someone who has lost a piece of them inside. There are times when the pressures of life can weigh you down. There is a feeling of uselessness; an indifference to any activity; feelings of hopelessness; and an overarching feeling that perhaps life isn’t what it is drummed up to be.

The people who have lost a loved one or a cherished friend know these thoughts and feelings all too well. Of all the billions of people in the world, why did the one I love have to be the one to die? It’s truly a sad place to be. The questions abound in the mind thus leading one to make peace with the turmoil in their world and choose to continue living; whatever living is anyway.

So what’s the point of living?

Why bother waking up every day? Are humans just machines programmed to complete some tasks and interact with others in a certain way before returning to ‘re-charge’ in the beds again? There has to be more to life. There just has to be.

The happiest people in the world aren’t the ones without any problems. They have got to a point where they can cope with issues better and they choose to react positively to any setbacks. Perhaps this is the important thing to note. This ability to choose how to react to situations could be what separates humans from machines. Or maybe that’s a hasty conclusion.

Humans are programmed to respond to situations in a certain way. Programmed? Like machines? The brain is the ultimate machine. The thoughts that go through it reformat this machine to fit the reality of the host. Thus the brain of the happy person is wired differently from the brain of the depressed person. Nevertheless, it takes only one moment of chaos in a person’s life to make them question their purpose for living.

There has to be someone who has figured this out. Is the sum total of life being born, then going to school, getting married, ultimately having kids, then the soul departing from the body? Do people have to bear the madness seen on television where people go around shooting each other, politicians making promises they know they won’t keep, musicians making soulless music or hearing about how banks have crumbled and all the money in there is lost? Was Friedrich Nietzsche right when he said that to live is to suffer? Is that all there is? What is the point of living?

Some Perspective

There is an intriguing statement that parents always make no matter where they are in the world. “I’m living for my kids”, they say. With this statement they wake up at odd hours, work double or even triple shifts, queue in line for hours, and do just about anything in their power to make sure their kids have everything they need. Seeing their kids happy makes them happy. Can making others happy be the reason for living or is that a way to escape focussing on one’s life?

Everyone has their reason for not wanting to die. Maybe it has to do with fear. But mostly, people talk about their life flashing before their eyes and how they thought about the people they love. It’s the reason some people hold on to their lives even when they are suffering. They just don’t want to let down the people who love them. They want to be there with them and share their lives with them.

Or maybe it’s just one’s pride that keeps them from taking their lives. Perhaps the soul feels that there is still much that can be accomplished.

Maybe there is a God who is planning people’s lives and filling them with the desire to live and make some impact on the world.

Whatever it is, there is a reason why humans are here. Ultimately, one has to decide for themselves what their reason for living is.

When the Pressures of Life Weigh You Down

Life is brutal. There is of course the “You get what you expect in life” aphorism or the one about how “You can see your life through different lenses; either a positive outlook or a negative one, and in each case you will be right”. None of that changes the fact that life is brutal. It is impersonal. It does not care about your status in society. Neither does it matter whether you are the kindest soul or the vilest person on the planet. It will dish out its brutality in unequal measure. At least that’s how it seems.Pressures of life

You have bills to pay. The kids haven’t had a decent meal in a while. Your landlord wants to evict you. You’ve just been laid off. Your department is no longer needed and therefore they won’t require your services anymore. You’ve just found out your spouse has been cheating on you with your best friend. The doctor has just announced that your only child has a terminal illness. A reckless driver just totalled your car and now you are paralysed from the waist down. That vacation of a lifetime took you to an area where you contracted a flesh-eating bug. That pimple on your face is actually a cancerous tumour. It’s brutality everywhere. That is life.

It all sounds bleak. Perhaps it is true when they say you should focus on the positive things that life has to offer. As one song says, “Count your blessings name them one by one”. Apparently, when you count your blessings, your outlook changes and you realize that things are not as bad as they appear. Is that supposed to be comforting? How will you solve your current problems? Who will help you when everyone around you is going through their own personal hell? Why do bad things happen to good people?

That is the nature of life. Sometimes the pressures of life can weigh you down and there doesn’t seem to be any respite in the near future. Your friends have turned their back on you and your family doesn’t seem to love you anymore. You are all alone. You are broke and all your creditors want a piece from you. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. People say you are useless; foolish even. The world would be better off without you.

Surely, what’s the point of living? Might as well escape the brutality, right?

New Eyes

If you’ve read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl (if not, I would definitely recommend it), you realize that life will do with you as it pleases. It will tear you down to your bare bones till all you can see is the real you. You will question your purpose on this earth when all the pressures of life weigh you down. You are here for a reason but what is it? Were you just put here to suffer?

Most of the kindest people on earth are those who have suffered deeply in their hearts and minds. The only thing that separates those who make it through this life is willpower. Yes, you are suffering. But you are not the only one. You are not alone. There are many other people going through the same struggle. There are millions more whose struggles you would not wish to bear. We are bound to one another through our lives; through our shared pain. We are all in this together.

That’s why you are always urged to smile at people and be kind whenever possible “because you do not know what struggles they may be going through”. It is just a small way of saying, “Despite the pain you are feeling, I appreciate that we are in this together”. It’s a shared kinship.

Life is not that bleak. It is true you need to teach yourself to look at life with new eyes. There is so much beauty around us that goes unnoticed. When is the last time you took a second to stare at the moon? When is the last time you closed your umbrella and just raised your head to the sky and embraced the rain? When’s the last time you tried to share a joke with the quiet person in the room? When is the last time you just smiled at a random stranger as you passed and they smiled back at you?

Like in other things in life, it is the little things that matter. How did you make a million? I just decided to change my product from green to blue. How did you win that football match? I just tweaked the tactics a little and we took control of the game. What do you love about her? There’s this little noise she makes when she laughs. What do you like about him? There’s this little look he gets when he sees me.

It’s the little things that matter!

Look around you and find whatever it is that makes you happy; even for a moment. The pain will always be there but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be interspersed with moments of sheer joy. Perhaps it’s even a good idea to start living your bucket list right now. There are so many people who are trying to complete their bucket lists quickly because they’ve been told they have a terminal disease.

Maybe taking the attitude that we don’t have long to live can spur us to great heights. We can love deeply; live without fear; speak kind words to one another; share our meals with those who don’t have the means; give a stranger our parking space; be patient with one another; appreciate our earthly possessions more; go to all our kids’ ballgames; sing passionately; and even sleep peacefully. Life would be an expression of love.

Life brings suffering but Love is effusive. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some form of meaning in the suffering”. We can choose to see the world with new eyes. We can accept the reality of the world and still do the things that will bring joy to our lives. We can love our lives in spite of the inherent flaws. Only then can we connect with others in the eternal bond that binds us together: Life.

Seasons of Happiness, Seasons of Suffering

freerangestock.com

freerangestock.com

We all want to be happy. There’s no doubt about it. Just eavesdrop on any conversation (it’s not nice but I just want to prove my point 🙂 ) and you’ll hear people talking about that car that so and so bought; that trophy wife that your new neighbour has; or that recent promotion that came with numerous bonuses and benefits.

And there’s that clamour for people to want to match what their friends or rivals have achieved (in truth, it’s more about exceeding their successes). He bought a new Mercedes; I’ll buy a new BMW. She gets her hair done every week; I’ll be going to the salon every 3 days. People just want to keep up with the Joneses. 

People want to be successful because they equate success with happiness. You can even argue that people who steal are not really greedy and selfish, just that they want to be happy. Stealing is VERY WRONG but people will take extraordinary steps to ensure their happiness. No evil is evil enough and no deed is unethical or immoral if it will help them reach their goal. You read stories that corruption is rampant in Europe. When you dig deeper you discover that people who engage in corruption have one goal in mind: To be happy. They may be trying to live a life that is beyond their means but they believe having money will make them happy. You see it happening all the time even amongst your friends or loved ones. Someone will do something that will make you wonder whether they are the same person you knew. Where is the integrity, sense of responsibility, fidelity to the law, accountability to the community? We all want to be happy and how people achieve their happiness will differ widely.

But then, life doesn’t work the way we want it to. Things fall apart unexpectedly. One day you feel like a king/queen, and the next, you are nothing but a pauper. One day you feel like you are full of life, even your friends tell you that you have a youthful look about you, and the next thing, your doctor is saying you are actually very ill and have a few weeks to live. You’ve heard the statement, “The rich also cry”. Apparently no one can escape the vicissitude of life.

The truth is we will all go through seasons of happiness and seasons of suffering at some points in our lives. A lady from season 5 episode 8 of the series Royal Pains, put it aptly as she spoke to one of the main characters, Divya Katdare (played by Reshma Shetty). She said: “Life…ebbs and flows, like the perennials in my garden. Sometimes they’re in bloom, sometimes they’re not. But they’re always alive. Things change…unexpected things happen.”

source: usa network series image

source: usa network series image

But the real message that has been popping up recently is this: happiness is not something to pursue, it is a state of being. You can actually CHOOSE to be happy. It doesn’t have to be that something is making you happy. You find that place inside of you where you are grateful for your existence. You discover that you can change your mood instantly by just changing your attitude and thoughts.

Unfortunately, this ‘choice’ does not apply to all people. There are those with mental health issues that are silently suffering in our midst. While depressed people can find a way out of their state of perpetual suffering to a point of happiness, the same cannot be said of those who are mentally ill. That is a problem they will face personally and with people who love them. There will be moments of happiness, and there will be greater struggles that will cause a lot of suffering. It is the nature of our world.

I do believe we can give of ourselves to others. There is a Tibetan proverb I once encountered that said, “As I helped him up the mountain, lo, I found myself at the top”. I think we can all enhance our chances of being happy by helping the collective get to a point where they are happy to be alive.

freerangestock.com

freerangestock.com

I heard another man say, “Our greatest wealth is our health”. I know many people will agree with this. If we could all be healthy, I think it would be a great step toward being happy. Mental health issues affect not only those suffering from it, but their families and friends. You feel helpless. What can you do to alleviate their pain? Why does life make us suffer?

There will be seasons of happiness and seasons of suffering. The human spirit is resilient. Every time I recite the words of Invictus, I know I have faced and will face any challenge head on. Not everyone is like this. Even as we marked World Suicide Day, there were many people we had lost. People we cared about took their own lives. Random people across the globe committed suicide. Everybody is suffering; some just know how to reach their point of happiness, while others are beset by mental health weaknesses that overwhelm them.

There is a quote from Wendy Maas that says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. Try to make other people happy. Happiness is contagious. You always seek out those people who make you laugh. Those people who are the life of the party always draw crowds to themselves. It’s all about being happy. But it is more important that your happiness comes from within you. If you view the world from a point of happiness, from a point of gratitude, you will gain strength even in times of suffering.

Be strong. It is part of everyone’s journey.

Be available. It is part of your calling to help others.

I don’t know where you are or what you are going through. But I want you to be happy. I hope that your seasons of happiness stay in bloom longer than your seasons of suffering.

How does this make you feel?

Hello!

There are some days you come across something nice yet different. Something that fosters feelings of sadness yet elicits moments of joy. I came across something like that recently. I wasn’t sure what to feel.

All I know is that I liked it.

So I thought I would post it here. I felt it would mean something to you. It’s a poem written by Nicole H.

Poem by Nicole

The poem is called: Do Not Weep for Me

In my silence I’m withering,
Dying.
Reaching out as far as I can
Stretch,
Grasping to hold on to what’s
Left,
But I find there is nothing
There,
No happiness to nourish my
Heart,
No love to quench my
Thirst.
It is time for me to let
Go.
Perhaps, I think, maybe, just
Maybe…
Maybe I have made an
Impression,
That I’ve left something behind for
Someone
A glimpse of hope, a vision of
Beauty,
A memory that may never
Fade.
Do not weep for me, do not
Mourn,
For my time with you is
Up.
Continue on, live your
Life,
Move ahead and don’t look
Back,
Inside your soul carry a piece of
Me.
The winter is harsh, brutally
Cold
Be strong my dear, you’ll make it
Through.
Listen to me, heed my
Words,
And remember, I’ll always love
You.

So tell me, how does this make you feel?

Note: Thanks Nicole for letting me use this poem.