May is mental health awareness month. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s a good idea to stop and consider your mental health, and how it may or may not be harming the quality of your life. With how busy everyone is, it’s easy to feel surrounded and lost in modern-day “noise” and not have a good grasp of our emotional and mental health.
Unfortunately, in our culture, it can be very easy to overlook your mental health. Our society prioritizes beauty and financial success over emotional well-being and the quality of our lives. In fact, your mental and emotional health have a direct impact on your daily functioning, happiness, and ultimately, how fulfilling your relationships are.
Beauty and money aren’t critical to the success of your relationship or your dating prospects. It’s your mental health that can make or break your relationships. Even if reduced mental and emotional health levels aren’t sabotaging your love life, it will hurt you in other areas of your life.
The brain is just another part of the body, and hardly anyone is ever in peak physical condition, or able to maintain it for their entire lives. Think of how many times you’ve had a cold that lingered and wouldn’t go away, or had a season of life where you suffered from frequent headaches, or injuries. The brain is similar. It’s very common to experience episodes of depression, or anxiety, or any number of mental health issues and symptoms. Mental illness in various forms is common, affecting 1 in 5 adults every year.
But unlike physical health issues, people don’t talk as much about mental health problems. That means they don’t acknowledge how they are harming them and they might not seek help for them. It’s a lot easier for people to hide or dismiss their anxiety symptoms, while a festering, infected wound might be more obvious. But both of these conditions left untreated, are harmful.
The primary reason we don’t discuss mental health is due to the stigma. People who live with mental health conditions are often blamed for them, even though they can’t control them. They’re labeled “crazy” or “weird” or “dangerous” and often feel ashamed. Worse yet, this stigma prevents people from getting the help they need.
But it isn’t a weakness or failure to fall ill and need help. It’s a sign of strength to realize you’re struggling and to ask for help when you need it.
The stigma causes us to make mental health funding a lower priority, so people living with these conditions get a lower quality of care. How can we solve a lot of our society’s problems that stem from mental illness if we don’t take it seriously? Untreated mental illness is a significant public health concern. If you have a mental illness, it makes it harder to get and keep a job or to function in school. It can affect your finances, and it’s one of the leading causes of disability.
Mental health problems are associated with homelessness, poverty, unemployment, substance use, and trouble forming and maintaining relationships, often leading to social isolation. Other related complications include harming yourself or others, and mental health issues can cause or worsen certain physical health conditions.
When people live with the symptoms of mental illness, they don’t necessarily know they have a problem. If they’ve lived with their condition for a long time or it runs in the family, they may think it’s normal. Maybe they think everyone lives with similar problems and they pretend to feel normal and just don’t talk about it. But if you’re living with any of the following symptoms on an ongoing basis, you may have more of a problem than you are aware of:
- Feeling sad or down consistently, regardless of circumstances
- Confused thinking and trouble concentrating along with memory issues
- Excessive fear or worry
- Low energy or tiredness irrespective of how much sleep you get
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Excessive or inappropriate guilt and feelings of low self-worth
- Extreme mood swings, highs and lows, and significant irritability, hostility, or violence
- Withdrawal from friends or usual activities
- Having trouble leaving the house
- Trouble eating, overeating, and substantial changes in weight
- Reliving past traumas
- Trouble coping with daily problems or stress
- Not in touch with reality, delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thinking
- Change in sex drive
- Trouble understanding and relating to people and situations
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, please reach out for help today. Therapists, social workers, counselors, and mental health advocates can put you in touch with doctors who specialize in treating mental health disorders. Making sure you’re healthy on a mental and emotional level will not only improve your daily functioning and quality of life, but it will also help you find and maintain a healthy, fulfilling relationship.