It’s time to talk about mental health | Day 46 of 50

It’s not just time to talk about mental health–it’s time to ask, listen, and care.

If you read yesterday’s blog, you already know what I’m dealing with. A loved one has been hospitalized after a severe mental episode.  After years of having my own speculation that this person was suffering with something more than just a bad day, I am now certain. I was too busy dealing with my own mental health I couldn’t see anything else.  It makes me so mad that mental illness is looked at as a crime and because of that, it can be overlooked and ignored too long.  We need to end mental health discrimination! Misinformed judgment makes the situation so much worse.

Mental health is a reality not a choice. The discrimination makes people run from the problem and ignore it for as long as they can function with the illness. It’s when we ignore problems that they get worse and sometimes to the point of no return. This holds truth in our personal life and the world. Arresting, blaming and killing people with mental illness ignores the real problem, we need to break the stigma. Just like ignoring racial inequality led to riots, ignoring mental illness leads to an internal mental war.

Yesterday I spent time meditating and sitting with my emotions to make peace with this news. It sits heavy on my heart because I feel I could have done something sooner if I knew the severity of the illness.  I grew up with a culture that looks down on mental illness and knows nothing about mental health.  I didn’t even know the cause for mental illness and as I mentioned in another blog: know better, do better. I can’t go back and undo my choices but I can be better informed to do better next time life confronts me with this test.

Here is what I learned are common causes and risk factors for mental illness:

  • Inherited traits: A history of mental illness in a blood relative.
  • Bad environmental exposures before birth: This can include exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb.
  • Disrupted brain chemistry: When a person’s neural networks are impaired, failure in nerve receptors and nerve systems can trigger depression and other emotional disorders.
  • Stressful life situations: Examples include financial problems, a loved one’s death or a divorce.
  • A chronic medical condition: For example, chemical depression and diabetes.
  • Brain damage: Such as a result of a serious injury like a traumatic brain injury, such as a violent blow to the head.
  • Traumatic experiences: These can include trauma from military combat or assault.
  • Substance abuse: Excessive use of alcohol or recreational drugs are a big problem.
  • Early mental trauma: A childhood history of abuse or neglect.
  • Poor social support: Few friends–or at least very few healthy friendships. This can also apply to a toxic family dynamic.

Do you recognize any of the above in your life or in that of a loved one? Don’t make the mistake I did–don’t ignore these signs in another person (or in yourself)! If someone is struggling, try to help them, don’t blame them. I really wish I knew more about mental health way sooner but I have to trust Gods perfect timing.

We all want things to stay the same, so we often settle for living with misery because we are afraid of changes or things crumbling to ruins. But what if ruin is a blessing in disguise?

For me, ruin turned out to be a gift.  It helped me adapt and grow and rebuild. Ruin is the road to transformation. We must always be prepared for endless waves of transformation. I shared more on Facebook Live. 

There are no guaranteed preventions for mental illness. But if you or someone else may be at risk, there are some best practices you can follow:

  • Pay attention to warning signs: Work with a doctor to find what triggers the symptoms. Make a plan for what to do if symptoms return. Involve family members or friends to watch for warning signs.
  • Routine medical care: Checkups and visits to the primary care provider cannot be skipped, especially if you or your loved one is starting to feel unwell.
  • Get therapy as needed: Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms get bad.
  • Take good care of the body: Sufficient sleep, healthy eating, lifestyle choices and regular physical activity are important.

… that last “best practice” is what I’ve built my lifestyle around: a healthy schedule, healthy eating, meditation and physical fitness. Many mental health experts will emphasize the importance of maintaining a regular schedule, and that’s where a fitness routine comes in. I first developed the schedule that became the blueprint for the 30-Day Wellness Guide as a way to incorporate that regular schedule into my life. I myself have wrestled with depression, so I religiously keep my social circle and daily schedule as positively energizing as I can, to support my longterm mental goals.

Today’s food & workout recap:

  • Breakfast: Vegan protein shake with fiber boost (190 cals)
  • Exercise: One hour Zoom upper body workout
  • Lunch: 2 eggs, 1 egg white, 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup blueberries (341 cals)
  • Lunch: 2 protein bars (380 cals)
  • Dinner: 3 protein bars (570 cals)
  • Snack: 1 protein bar (190 cals)

***Note: I didn’t have an appetite, so I tried to get my calories in with protein bars.

Total food calories for today: 1,671 = (203g, 40% Carbohydrates / 60g, 27% Fat / 163g, 33% Protein)

I didn’t exerciser the best nutrition today, but I did the best I could. So I’m reminded today more than ever that my healthy routine must continue on its disciplined path.  Befriend discipline, everyone, it could literally save your life.


Leave a Reply