The Juniper Files: Mental Illness Touches Us All – Our Write Side

I read an article on the Huffington Post today titled Mental Illness Affects Everyone and I realized there was far more truth to that title than the article covered. Don’t get me wrong, it was a thorough article with solid statistics, but the effects reach even further than those who are diagnosed or even those who go untreated.

A perfect example would be the fact that I am coming down off an anxiety attack even as I type this. That anxiety attack was triggered by a meltdown my daughter had a little while ago. And, it leads me to wonder, would I have had this anxiety attack if my daughter did not have her issues? While I don’t blame her, obviously, it just shows how one person’s mental health can affect another’s.

I have a history of anxiety not attributed to her. Again, though, always as a reaction to the behavior or actions of someone who was mentally unstable. Every day people who might have no hereditary predisposition to mental illness can be affected by someone else, whether directly or indirectly. This is not to say people with mental illness are all ticking bombs. It is the way we, as a society, handle mental illness in general.

If one in four Americans suffer from some form of mental illness in any given year, how many people are really suffering? If one person calls off of work, due to a mental health day, how does that workload affect a coworker?

If a family keeps a pedophile’s behavior hushed, how are the victims affected? Mental illness comes in so many shades and how it is dealt with needs to take in consideration the ill, the victimized, the community.

It is clear to see how this can trickle through our families, our workplaces, and our communities. So, I have to ask why is there still so much stigma? Mental illness is not the secret we keep locked in the basement. It isn’t lurking in the shadows. It touches us, every one of us, somehow, some way. Every single day.

It is in everyone’s best interest to make mental health a priority. I am not going to touch on any recent tragedies. I think those go without saying and I am not going to ride on the waves of sensationalism.

I am simply going to leave you with this: Take care of yourself. Do those little things that bring you peace. Yoga. Tea. A good book. A walk on the beach. Ostrich racing. Whatever. And then, try to help someone else find a little bit of peace. Advocate for mental health services and victim rights. There is balance, but people have to be willing to work to find it.

Recognize mental illness. Spread peace. Eradicate stigma.