THIS IS MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH
With so many atrocities being committed around the world right now, especially here in America, by people who appear to have serious mental health issues, this is the perfect time, (especially considering the designation of this entire month,) to discuss all of our minds, which can be quite fragile.
Those issues can manifest themselves in the best of us, no matter who we are or our lot in life, which everyone needs to realize.
Apropos of the occasion, here’s a quick little tale of something I put myself through: I find myself occasionally thinking, where did my life go? I wanted to travel the world, and especially visit my friends all over. I had always planned to have a big house with a giant pool and cabanas. And it would have enough rooms for me to do a different fun color scheme in each of them. (Paint cards are my favorite items in the world! And they’ve been so since I was just a tot. Perhaps my parents should have checked-out my mental health back then! I’m not even joking.)
And now I think, rather know, there’s not enough time left in my life to get it all done before I slow down and become content being a total homebody. (No worries–that’s still decades away, but all the projects I want to do would take up every second of my life, and wouldn’t leave me much time to watch my beloved sports! Again, not joking.)
But then I calm myself down and remember how much I have done in my life. And how many good things I have now! I’ve lived with the man of my dreams for eons, and I had a few good boyfriends before him. I get to live in a city and area I’m grateful for every time I drive home from anywhere. I have a few good friends. And I’ve had an incredibly fun life, with lots of great times, knock on wood. And…I got to achieve my lifelong dream of being a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carosn!!!
I was recently reminded of many of those wonderful times when I had to go through tons of old-school non-digital photos to find a few for articles on this very e-zine!
While I super-enjoyed those beautiful memories, at the same time I mourned not having times like those former ones anymore. (And, very shallowly, I also missed how much better-looking I was before I gained weight when I broke my back a dozen or so years ago!) So the photo project left me somewhat depressed.
That all led me to do some research to find-out if there’s such a thing as a National Mental Health Day, Week, or Month. And lo and behold—there it was! Mental Health Awareness Month. And it was starting just two weeks later! Which actually cheered me up a bit, although I can’t put my finger on exactly why, except maybe because that reminded me that I’m far from alone in having those feelings. That’s something many of us need to remember, which is the reason I’m doing this article to begin with, rather than just keeping those insecure thoughts to myself.
It turns-out that every May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And it has been a thing since 1949! Who knew?! I was shocked to learn that anyone acknowledged mental issues way back then! I thought it was something people had to keep quiet about lest they be labeled “crazy!” As a matter of fact, my mother decided to try a psychiatrist once, (and I do mean once,) when I was little, and although it was way after 1949, it was still sort-of a frightening proposition. I have no idea why she brought us kids with her, but I remember looking at the other people in the waiting room and being a tad scared of them!
So, to honor this month, I, of course, have a few more thoughts to share on the subject. Here they are:
~ Several organizations have put out PSAs about mental health, to help reduce the stigma of it and make people realize they are not alone. Chief among them, for me, (because I watch multiple sports just about every day!,) is the one featuring NBA players discussing it. But curious to me is New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson being one of the people in it, and at the beginning, no less.
The reason that I’m confused about his inclusion is that he wasn’t playing recently, including when his team really needed him in a postseason tournament. When he was talking to the press about it, he said that he wasn’t hurt anymore, and he was capable of playing physically, but that he didn’t want to play until he felt like himself. He repeated that a couple of times. Some of the commentators picked up on that, and without saying that perhaps he was having a mental health issue, that’s kind of what they talked around. It was clear that he has a mental, psychological, or emotional problem, rather than a physical one. The first time I saw that presser, I noted to Mr. X that that poor boy needs some therapy. And then here he was on the PSA suggesting to other people that they get help.
So I just hope that he can take his own advice, or that someone close to him can suggest that he look into getting some help himself. I’m always wishing the best for that amazing talent.
~ I have to occasionally remind myself about something so wise that came from a very unexpected source. A television magazine show I watched a while ago did a story on two teenage girls who had been kidnapped and were now rescued. The interviewer asked them how they’re dealing with that horrible ordeal now. One of the girls explained that if everybody put their problems into the middle of a room, and then picked one out of it, most people would choose to have their own problem back. I was amazed at that young girl’s grace. And remembering that very astute counsel just when I need it, even in times of intense physical problems that could have broken me, has helped immeasurably.
~ Another thing in a not-usual place has brought me some comfort over the years. A lawyer pal sends me a small appointment book every year. It’s too petite to use for its real purpose, but I usually go through it to read the little inspirational or informative quotes along the tops of the pages. One in particular, by very old school writer Arnold Glasow, caught my eye about a decade ago: “Nothing lasts forever, not even your troubles.” While you can take that as sad–that your good times are susceptible to ending, as well–it should more cheer you up that your problems will be over at some point. That’s the bigger message I took from it, as I’m sure it was intended. And it always helps to realize that it is correct.
~ On what I consider an amusing note, I was in a supermarket parking lot late one Christmas Eve during the run of my former television show, Karen’s Restaurant Revue, on which I just talked for a half hour in a row, and everyone seemed to find it entertaining enough. A woman came over and asked me if I was the “girl on TV,” which tons of people did, so I thought nothing of it at first, and proudly said that I am, indeed, that girl. Then to my surprise, the woman said, “I want to know what in your life gave you the permission to…” something to the effect of me being so secure and confident. She worded it as an attack, not a compliment.
I was taken aback a bit, and asked her how she could watch my show and not tell that I’m a wreck! That was part of the appeal of it to my audience! And she answered literally, “Oh, you are?! That’s okay, then.”
So, when she thought I was secure and always happy, that was not good with her. But when she knew that I, too, had issues, that made her day. She left without wishing me even a half-hearted “Merry Christmas.” Charming.
~ Once at a friend’s child’s birthday party, a boy of around four began screaming and crying. I rushed over to see what had happened to him, expecting a broken leg or something like it from the intensity of his suffering. As his mother put a comforting arm around him and asked what happened, he sobbingly answered, “That kid hurt my feelings!” I found it somewhat amusing at the time, but since then, I’ve silently applauded that someone so young can understand that situation.
~ Now, it would be weird to end this article by wishing you all a Happy Mental Health Awareness Month, but please just use this time to remember than none of us are alone, and we need each other more than ever now. And if there’s a way you can help yourself or others in that area, please just dive in and do it!
Do it maybe even in the form of just talking it out with friends. Many are happy to help. But please be mindful to not overburden them—they might have problems of their own. (Example: I had a friend a few years ago who always called me for an hour on the way to her therapist, for me to suggest what she should talk about with him, and then for another hour on the way back, to discuss what he had said in her session. So she gave the guy $200. for his fifty minutes, but used-up two hours of my time without a thought of even taking me to lunch! That is definitely way too much to expect from even a best friend or family member, let alone just a good pal! It actually began to affect my mental health! For the third time in this article, not joking.)
Many areas of the country offer free or affordable therapists, so try to take advantage of those services. You can always check with a doctor to find someone.
Just take care of yourselves, this month and always! Maybe use this month of May as the starting point.