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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

MS and Mental Illness

MAY 22, 2018   

Spring has sprung! As I look around, Mother Earth is in bloom. Trees are sprouting new leaves, plants are growing, and the grass is green once again. I love spring and all that it represents — hopes for new birth and rebirth. For those who are unaware, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
I write this week to encourage those who are battling and surviving mental illness and any related disorders. It serves to urge everyone to actively recognize the warning signs of someone in need of assistance. This column is a call to action to offer support, empathy, a safe environment, and to eradicate stigma.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that one in five adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness, and one in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness. Mental health continues to be an issue that is under-discussed, undertreated, and often ignored. However, there are warning signs.
My experiences of having MS and heart disease have introduced me to depression and anxiety. From my window seat, my eyes opened to the struggle that many people face on a daily basis. I have vowed to learn about mental health disorders, speak openly about them, share my personal experience, get acquainted with available resources, and offer encouraging words.
On my journey as a heart health and MS advocate, I have met people who struggle, survive, and thrive with mental illness. I have realized that there is one commonality that we possess, which is to know that we matter. We need to know that someone cares and that they hear our voices. There is a desire to feel that we have value and the longing to feel that life, in all of its tragedy and turmoil, is really worth living.
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