Woah woah woah, before you start skimming this article, or skip it completely, I promise you this is one you'll want to read. And don't worry, it will be filled with lots of personality like my other posts. It won't be too depressing, contrary to the title. I might even throw in a picture or two if you're good!
By the title of this post you can probably guess what it's about. Mental health is something that isn't talked about all that much today. It's like the invisible injury. This is why so many people think it's something you can just stop doing. Stop skipping classes. Stop sleeping all the time. Stop doing nothing. Because there is not a physical pain, or wound, it must not be bad...right?
That's not really the case.
Imagine this. You play football. (I'm thinking like Zac Efron in 17 again. You can decide what your imaginary self looks like. Maybe Hugh Jackman for all you older women? Sorry. Forget I said older women. Love you guys.) You score the winning touch down or goal, or whatever football entails, and-
Before we get into this, let's switch to a sport I'm a little more familiar with.
You're a dancer. (Maybe you're me? lol) You have a performance one week from now, and everyone you know is coming. (Post covid, might I add. Okay. I'll stop.) You're so excited to perform, and want to do well. This is all you've worked toward for the last several months. Until that is, you slip during your 32 fouettes en pointe into a back hand spring leap twerk during dress rehearsal and break your ankle. You're devastated. No one sees, so you decide to try play it off like it's nothing. But, much to your own dismay, you can't even stand up. This sucks.
You go to the doctor and he tells you you're out for the next few months, maybe more if you don't treat it right and take care of it. This was the last thing you wanted to happen. How could you break your ankle? You? You were doing everything right and practicing hard and staying focused. How could this happen?
You go back to rehearsal the next day in a cast and crutches. No one notices. (Which is pretty hard, as your cast is bright pink with sparkles. Oh! And it has Harry Styles' autograph on it. Anyway,) You sit down in the audience and start to watch your friends. They're doing everything you wish you could. You're angry, pissed off, and sad. You see your teacher walk up to you in the corner of you now teary, blurred vision. Maybe she will help you feel better.
"What are you doing?" She says. (Let's pretend she's Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada for effect. Think scowl and deep eyebrows. Okay, let's continue.)
"What? I'm watching." You say. Can she not see your cast and crutches?
"Get on stage! Why are you sitting in the audience?" She throws her hands on her hips.
Hm. She's not only mean, but not so bright either.
"I broke my ankle? I'm out for months." The thought makes you start to cry again.
"Broke your ankle? Just get up and dance! It's just your ankle."
"But it's broken." You say, now a little confused.
"You're being dramatic. Just dance." She yells, and then storms off backstage.
Distraught and confused, you start to doubt yourself. How did this happen? This is the saddest you've felt, because you realize this was out of your control. And no one believes you.
Okay. Now, I want you to reimagine that scenario. Instead of breaking your ankle, you were diagnosed with depression, or anxiety, or any mental health disorder that may effect you.
This happens all the time. Some people still act like Meryl Streep. DON'T BE MERYL STREEP. (Unless you're in Mamma Mia. Then I love you.)
This is why mental health needs more awareness. Mental health is just as real and valid as physical health. Say it with me.
Ahem. *clears throat* Mental health is just as real and valid as physical health!
Speaking of mental health awareness..
I'm lucky enough that my mom is a huge advocate for mental health awareness. This made me feel normal, and okay when I was diagnosed with anxiety at a young age, and more recently, depression. Depression runs in the family, along with substance abuse, which falls into the same hand as depression. My dad struggles with PTSD, just like my mom herself has, and does struggle with depression every day. I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions over her lunch break about mental health. Here's her scoop.
Lunch Break Questions
with Robynn Ogawa
I started off with a warm up question.
Q: "How has your day been? What did you have for breakfast?"
A: "My day has been good. No breakfast, but coffee with lots of cream and sugar!"
Then I got right into it.
Q: "Do you think there needs to be more attention brought to mental health?"
A: "Awareness is the first step in understanding not just what it looks like, or the signs and symptoms, but how it effects individuals and society related to crime rates, substance abuse and homelessness."
Q: "How have you struggled with depression and anxiety?"
A: "I was diagnosed with depression about a year after having my first child," (That was me btw. Oopsie?) "but mental health impacted my family first when my 19 year old brother committed suicide. No one in our family recognized any of the signs until it was too late. I have come to realize the life saving role medication and/or therapy plays in treating my depression no different than insulin with diabetes."
Q: "Why is it important to keep your mental health in check?"
A: "Mental health effects our mood and thinking, which impacts the decisions and choices we make. I’d compare it to our vision. Keeping your vision in check means doing things like keeping a healthy diet, wearing sun protection. Some may need glasses and regular check ups. If we neglect those things, over time we might not even notice how much of a negative difference there is. Our abilities to focus and see things clearly has changed almost without us even noticing. Keeping mental health “in-check” starts with awareness and positivity."
There you have it folks!
The point of this whole post is to make aware my small amount of readers, (of which the majority is my family plus a few close friends. ;) ) that there is nothing taboo about mental health. It's not some super secret topic that you can't speak of, like saying Voldemort's name. It is something that needs more attention, and love. The stigma needs to just, be gone.
To be honest, I was really nervous writing this article. I was nervous talking about a subject that has recently become a big part of my life. At first, I didn't want to write it. I wanted this blog to be a happy place where I could go and ignore all my problems. A place to ignore that I skip class regularly. To ignore that it's hard to get out of bed every morning. To ignore the fact that every time I do get out of bed, the first thing I have to do is take a pill, which may or may not solve all these problems. But I have come to realize that it's something I should face, and acknowledge, because I know I'm not the only one going through the same thing.
To anyone reading this that struggles with their mental health, in any of its unfortunate forms, you are not alone. You are COMPLETELY normal. There are thousands upon millions of people going through the same thing. You will get through this. You are valid, loved, and amazing. Take it easy! Treat yourself. You're doing your best. And go drink some water, it's good for you. And if you need anything, (yes you!) I'm here.
To anyone who knows someone who may struggle with their mental health in any way, I want you to go, (after you're done reading this obviously, we're not done yet!) and ask them how they're doing. Text, call, DM, whatever. Just simply ask how they are. Or what they're doing, or how their day is going. They may not need it now, but them knowing that they have someone who cares enough to simply ask them how they are can be enough to help them get through the slightest bit of what they're going through. Who knows, you may make their day! And that might lead to the rest of their days.
And lastly, (really this time) to anyone who may not understand what I mean by mental health, or anything of that sort, GO EDUCATE YOURSELF. Sorry, that may have been harsh, but it's really important. I guarantee someone you know struggles with their mental health every day. I promise you, you won't regret it. You may help someone very close to you!
Okay, my soap box is going back into storage.
For a little while. ;)
Ps, I needed a picture, so, uh...
here's me on op of a parking garage a few days ago freezing my booty off!