Mental health needs more sunlight

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I came across this initiative called Bring Change 2 Mind. It is a non-profit organisation working to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness through public service educational materials like this one made at Grand Central. The organisation was founded by American actress Glen Close to support her sister Jessie who has bipolar disorder. Close is one of the biggest advocates for changing the stigma around mental illness. (Read this article to find out more about her family’s struggle with mental disorders.)

I love what she has to say about mental illness:

It is an odd paradox that a society, which can now speak openly and unabashedly about topics that were once unspeakable, still remains largely silent when it comes to mental illness. Illnesses that were once discussed only in hushed tones are now part of healthy conversation and activism. Yet when it comes to bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia or depression, an uncharacteristic coyness takes over. We often say nothing. And so we marginalize the people who most need our acceptance. Our society ought to understand that many people with mental illness, given the right treatment, can be full participants in our society.

She says that mental health needs more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation. I couldn’t agree more. Isn’t that beautiful? More sunlight. ❤

 

Finding happiness

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john lennon

 

This is really what I’ve always wanted. To be happy. Nothing more than that – just happy. It seems so simple, but I’ve spent years of my life trying to get to this point. I don’t really think of it as a destination, but more of a process and it has been a desperate search at times. And by happy I don’t mean rainbows and unicorns and that everything in life is always fantastic. It is a deep feeling that no matter what goes wrong, in my soul I am feeling alive, safe and at peace.

One of my favourite quotes is one by Aristotle:

Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.

For me, being happy is the the biggest success I will ever achieve in my life. If I’m happy I can be a better person, love more and feel more deeply. It means I can live a more meaningful life.

 

Your brain and depression

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I found this awesome little video on Huffingtonpost.com. It illustrates what happens to your brain if you are depressed. It was posted on a YouTube channel ASAPScience.Take a look at it if you can – it is only about three minutes long.

The narrator makes some valid points:

Depression is not a bad mood. It is a biological reality and a medical condition, and when we talk about it as anything less than that, we belittle the people suffering from it.

This is why many of us living with depression don’t tell anyone.

Depression is a disease with a biological basis, along with psychological and social implications. It’s not simply a weakness that somebody should get over. 

Someone once told me that I should get over feeling so down and I should be grateful for what I have – this is just about the worst thing you can say to someone who is depressed.

The people who fight depression and its symptoms sounds like the opposite of weak. That kind of fight takes major strength. 

I couldn’t agree more – living with depression takes major courage and I have so much respect for anyone who is on this journey. Remember how far you’ve come and all the battles you’ve won. 

Crying. We all need to do it.

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crying

 

I thought this is quite wonderful. It offers an interesting perspective on something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve never liked crying in front of people. It always made me feel so vulnerable (and it still does, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think it is a sign of strength). I always felt so defeated and weak when I cried. I guess this is what happens when you spend years growing up in a family where it is just not okay to show emotion.

But then I started changing my perspective on this. I am still cautious around people I don’t trust (and I think that is a good thing, it is important to guard your heart), but I’m starting to feel more comfortable about crying. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, it is a sign that I am alive, human, in touch with my emotions and that I have the ability to feel things. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all, actually. I would even say crying is really necessary. Crying cleanses the heart and soul. And let’s face it, life can suck and sometimes what you need is a really good cry. It is so freeing that I can allow myself to do this now.

 

Hello Spring :-)

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spring

Spring in Johannesburg has arrived! Our peach tree is pushing out flowers and we had our first rain of the season yesterday. 🙂 I always know that the seasons are changing when I can finally leave for work in the morning not wearing that extra jersey. I am also extremely fortunate to live in a beautiful place where I have an opportunity to appreciate nature.

Spring is a special time of the year for me. It is a time of new beginings and renewal. It gives me so much hope and reminds me that is a privilege to be alive. Just like spring comes after winter, happiness and joy comes after sadness. No matter how long winter is, spring is sure to follow. I think spring is mother earth’s way of saying hold on, things will get better.

Think of how far you’ve come

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remember how far you've come

 

I think this is good advice because it is so important to maintain perspective on what’s going on your life. There are bad days – very bad days – and then there are absolutely amazing moments. I find joy in the small (but significant) wins. Earlier this week I realised that I feel really happy and this is such an amazing thing for me. It feels like I see life in full colour again. Life throws difficulties my way (who is exempt from that?), but I feel happy in my soul. This is such an amazing gift. ❤

 

RIP Robin Williams

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robin williams

 

Today I’m saddened by the news of the apparent suicide of this great actor. I have many special memories watching his movies. The ones that stand out for me are Aladdin (he was the voice of the genie), Mrs Doubtfire (who doesn’t remember that?!) and Dead Poets Society. He become known as the funniest man alive, but in the end he had to face his demons alone – he saw no other way to deal with his struggle with depression and addiction. It is tragic to think how alone he must have felt in those final moments.

robin williams quote