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mental_health_awarenessSince this “blog” is usually not a true online journal written by the author, but a hodgepodge of (hopefully) useful news items, reports, and announcements of various sorts – mostly for the employee assistance and supported employment fields — I thought it was probably high time I penned one of these posts for a change – and Mental Health Awareness Month seemed like an ideal opportunity.

 More and more people seem to be aware of mental health and various mental illnesses than ever, and that is certainly a good thing. However, it seems to me there still is a long ways to go. I need look no further than the mirror for evidence. I suffer from a minor form of depression (though it sure wasn’t minor to me at one time!) and Attention Deficit Disorder, maladies that went a long way toward explaining why I was having the problems I was in the working world, and sometimes in life in general.

 For a long, long time I could not figure out what was “wrong” with me, until I had plenty of time for some spiritual soul-searching when I was laid off a decade ago. I’d look around and see lots of other people who were happy and enjoying life, and I wondered why I wasn’t. Sure, I was out of work, but I seldom seemed to be happy even when I did have a job. Then there was the attention problem I had – except I wasn’t hyperactive – and didn’t you have to be hyper to have ADD/ADHD? Turns out you don’t. Wow, maybe I couldn’t pass the buck to a grumpy or overly demanding boss. Maybe I did in fact have “something” going on – something they obviously didn’t know, therefore how could they do anything but treat me like anyone else…. Only with my afflictions it was harder for me to keep up and do a good job, than someone who didn’t have them. Notice I didn’t say “impossible,” just more difficult.

 Moral of the story, if there is one: If you even suspect that you – or someone you know – might have some type of mental health issue, get it checked out! I am so grateful I was led to people who helped me, and who got me on some medications that have proven to be useful ever since. I wish I would have started this process much earlier than I did, but as I say, I’m glad I FINALLY did get help, because a good friend of mine, who was the peak of physical health, but NOT mentally did not, and he eventuallly ended up taking his life.

Unlike physical diseases and afflictions, mental health conditions might seem to be “invisible” to the uninformed, but they DO in fact exist, and effective treatment can make all the difference. Life is too short to not enjoy it.

Check out another blog on this topic, “May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a Time to Challenge Misconceptions at:

http://blog.syracuse.com/opinion/2013/05/may_is_mental_health_awareness.html

Mental health resources include:

National Alliance on Mental Illness  — www.nami.org

Mental Health America – www.mentalhealthamerica.net

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