The duty of talking about mental health

Editor’s Note: This post is part of my series for Mental Health Awareness month. The goal is to misspell myths and share my journey with mental illness to continue the conversation on self care and the importance of mental health.

Well, well! Happy May 1.

We made it to spring, fam. And that means a couple of things.

If you live along the gulf coast, hurricane season is nigh.

But if you are like me, you know it’s Mental Health Awareness month. And that means that there will be a month of talking about everything mental health.

And, boy, has this pandemic exposed mental health issues and illnesses.

It seemed like before the pandemic, it was considered not quite a taboo topic but one that you don’t share. I’ve been called brave for sharing my journey. That to me denotes fear, a fear of talking about a part of humanity that can be dark, confusing, and frightening.

But it’s not brave to talk about mental health, it’s our duty.

It’s my duty to talk about my suicide attempt at every turn.

It’s my duty to say that those thoughts come back from time to time.

it’s my duty to normalize this part of the human experience.

Because to do so means someone else is dealing with this alone or, worse yet, are being persecuted for it.

And so they live in silence.

And they thing something is wrong with them.

Why can’t they be happy when everyone else is?

Why do they think such harsh thoughts about themselves?

Why are they still alive?

These questions should never been answered alone. They should be answered in love, with love, understanding and compassion.

That is what it means to be human to have compassion.

In The Book of Joy, by His Holiness the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu, we learn that there are four circuits to happiness

  1. “our ability to maintain positive states”
  2. “our ability to recover from negative states”
  3. “our ability to focus and avoid mind wandering”
  4. “our ability to be generous”

For someone with depression and anxiety (hello, there!) number one and two are the absolute more difficult things to do.

And I’ve been called a positive person and not by accident.

There are not enough stars in the sky to count how many times my brain went negative, when it tells me very nice things about myself.

How I would amount to nothing.

How I will never reach my dream (writing books).

How I’m not good enough and never was good enough.

How I am better off dead and not a burden to my love ones.

If two of the four circuits to happiness are that difficult, imagine having to do that alone.

ALONE.

No one should have to do that alone. And no one should be afraid to be able to voice these thoughts because the fourth circuit of happiness is the money shot:

“our ability to be generous”

We are already hardwired for compassion and empathy. It’s in our factory default settings as human beings.

Therefore, when I share my story of mental health struggles, it’s not brave. I’m being compassionate. I’m showing my empathy.

I am showing my ability to be generous.

So, for this month, I’m talking about mental health on my Medium page. I’ll share my thoughts, my story, my research, and even some resources and things that help me through.

Because, as this pandemic has shown us, the human existence is fragile but it’s greatest strength is its capacity for compassion and empathy.

Daughter of immigrants. Afro-Latina. Mental Health informer. Writer. The intersection between mental health and existence lives in the words on this page.