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Mental Health Is Health

Rebecca Hilliard

Guest Blogger

mental health brain

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have struggled with my mental health since I was a child, before I even knew what mental health or mental illness were. It was never talked about, not at home, school, or the church my family went to. I thought the crippling anxiety I had was ‘normal,’ and even though I tried to tell my parents about it a couple of times, I could never express how deep and intense it was for me. Because I was a child and I didn’t have the words, and I had never heard anyone else talk about it.


On the outside, I seemed like a regular kid - I loved playing sports, being outside, and doing adventurous things. But on the inside, I was filled with such deep panic about every single thing I did. I so wish there had been someone in my life who had talked about anxiety and mental illness because my anxiety wasn’t normal anxiety. It was deep, constant, and unrelenting, plaguing me throughout my entire childhood. I didn’t seek help until my senior year of college when I had to move home because of the panic attacks I kept having.


I started seeing a therapist from my parents' church, and it was a terrible experience. The therapist/client relationship was so unhealthy, and so many boundaries were crossed. I got worse and worse while meeting with him, but I didn’t recognize it as unhealthy because I’d never been to therapy before and I’d never heard anyone else talk about what going to therapy was like. I so wish I could have identified the signs of an unhealthy therapist sooner. It would have saved me years of suffering.



By the time things ended with this therapist, I was in a much darker place, struggling with suicidality and self-harm and having no idea where to turn for help. And then someone entered my life who knew about mental health and mental illness and knew how to get me help. It was someone I never would have expected: my chiropractor. He knew I was struggling with self-harm and referred me to a well-trained therapist he knew, and he wasn’t afraid to be direct about it. If it wasn’t for him, if he hadn’t been willing to recognize the signs of my suffering, I might not have been able to get the help I needed with the therapist he referred me to.


Mental Health Awareness Month is so important to me because it NEEDS to be talked about more. There are kids, young people, and even adults out there who are suffering but have never heard anyone else talk about mental health or mental illness, and they haven’t been able to get the help they need or even know how to ask for it. I love all the accounts on social media that have been posting about mental health awareness, and I hope that we can even take that further into our real lives and talk about it there as well.


There are so many people who are suffering and so many people who need help and support. I wish mental health was talked about as often as physical health and that it was normalized with less stigma. There is no shame in struggling with your mental health. It is real and valid and something that so many people struggle with. If you’re going through this right now, you’re not the only one. You deserve to be heard and listened to, and there are people on the WhiteFlag app who can do that for you. You’re not alone in this.


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Connect with someone who understands on WhiteFlag: a free, anonymous, peer support network. Now!



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Nümi Maras
Nümi Maras
5 days ago

It seems like 99% of us grew up with our mental health being ignored or invalidate or shut down. It's wildly frustrating when I think how different things would be if I had the proper help at the proper time. How different for us all. I hope your have inner peace, and furious not! 💜

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