Mental Health Awareness Month In The Month Of Yam*

So they tell me it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. I guess last month was Alcohol Awareness Month. Ooookkkkkkaaaay.

So, this blog is supposed to be me, advocating for people who suffer from or struggle with mental illness and addiction issues. This should be RIIIIGHT up my alley, yeah? I don’t know. First of all, I’ve struggled with my own mental illness this issues this year, and haven’t been writing consistently on this blog, which has caused me a lot of shame. SHAME. That terrible, awful word that haunts most people with mental illness and addiction. It’s the thing (along with stigma) that keeps a lot of people from getting help for their problems.

Shame is also what keeps people from even thinking they have a problem in the first place. I’m not depressed, I’m just lazy. I’m not depressed, I just need to work harder. I’m not an alcoholic, I just need to get my shit together. I can’t be manic, that would mean that I would be shaving my head like Britney Spears did. That’s crazy, that’s psycho, that’s … I don’t know. Shameful, and who wants all of that. People get enough shaming messages every day, from all around them because they aren’t thin enough or pretty enough or handsome enough or tall enough or some shit. There’s absolutely NO room to be certifiably “crazy.”

So, there’s the fact that I feel guilt and shame that I haven’t been writing here as much as I had hoped. Haven’t been churning out the pieces of golden advice and comfort that I initially envisioned. Sorry, world, that I was hoping to enlighten. We’re getting off to a slow start.

But, there’s the secondary matter of ______ month. I’m pretty sure there was Black History Month when I was growing up. And that was IT. Then, I’m sure we progressed and had Asian-American month at some point and definitely Women’s History Month. I think things maybe started to get a little snowball-y with breast cancer and Livestrong. That’s when everyone started to wear ribbons and those plastic bracelets. That’s when your cause became PUBLIC. That’s when things started to really go. I think that’s when you started to hear more about this month and that month. And that did well for cancer, for sure.

But what the fuck is going on? There’s a month for everything and there’s like eight things for each month. There’s also ten things a day. Again, when I was growing up, Sweetest Day was like the “new” day (and apparently is only a Midwestern thing, who knew?). And there was like Pi day and pancake day and you’d hear here and there about some funny novelty day. But National Sibling Day? What the fuck was THAT? Maybe it’s just because of Facebook and everyone’s tendency to pass shit around and tweet and post pics and give shoutouts. Who knows.

I DIGRESS. The point is this … I’m just not sure how much good all these months do. I’m not sure if y’all are going to go donate money to NAMI (you should), or even better, donate to NAMI’s Chicago Chapter. I suppose it’s incumbent upon me to tell you that NAMI stands for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and they do all sorts of work on behalf of people with mental illness — from suicide prevention to working with veterans to trying to alleviate the stigma that still hangs on people diagnosed with chronic mental illness; sometimes by challenging shitty portrayals of people in various media, for instance.

I guess I’m just skeptical. I wonder how much of this is just talk talk and how much of it gets to anyone.  Not to mention the names are silly. Alcohol Awareness … yep, I am aware it exists! Ditto mental health — it exists, just not so much in my family or friends. (Jokes, jokes, (not really), jokes!)

For mental health awareness month, I’m going to try and finish up some blog drafts and try and crank through all these blog ideas sitting on the “notes” app of my iPhone. That will help *my* mental health a great deal. Join me, won’t you?

*May is the only month you can spell backwards and have it say another meaningful English word. In college, we decided that May was the “month of Yam, and it was the Year of Weirdness.” Welcome to the rest of my life.

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