Mental health touches everyone. The topic of mental health is not always easy. It is not fun, because it is a difficult conversation that people often avoid. This is where the gap in understanding mental health manifests. Some people view mental health as only being related to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other serious conditions. However, mental health is just as connected to something as simple as daily stress management with work or classes. To struggle with mental health does not mean there is something wrong with you – it does not mean that you are crazy.
This past week served as a wakeup call that mental health affects everyone. One of my sorority sisters, a dear friend, passed away last Friday. While it is easy to jump to conclusions, she did not intentionally take her own life. For years, she was forced to fight a constant grueling battle with mental health-related issues. She dealt with these challenges every day and used all of her energy and resources to push through. More importantly, she embraced her endless support network.
Her death is by no means a sign of failure. She, certainly, did not fail. Her resources did not fail. And her support network did not fail. She loved life, and life loved her. In times like this, so many people question whether or not they could have changed this outcome. “Could I have done more?” “Is this my fault?” The answer is no. If Ella were here to ask herself that same question, the answer would still be NO. She used every bit of energy she had to get better – fighting from the second she woke up in the morning to the minute when she closed her eyes at night.
Ella’s amazing family supported her like no one else ever could, and the rest of her support network was always rooting for them. They did not turn a blind eye or ignore the issues at hand. They dealt with them head-on, which is not an easy task. Sometimes helping someone means doing what is best for their mental health even if they disagree. No mother or father wants to see their little girl go through the pain that Ella had to endure. No mother or father wants their daughter to question whether or not they are on her side. But they were – always. Ella’s parents were her number one fans and were willing to do anything to help her, even if it meant going through the heartbreak of seeing her angry at times. All they wanted was to help improve her quality of life so that she could live life to the fullest. And she did.
I have felt and seen first-hand the heartache that this loss has caused, and no one deserves to feel the heartbreak of losing a special friend, a loving sister, and an incredible daughter. Despite her struggles, Ella loved her family dearly. Her affection for her mother, father, sister, brother, friends, and even those she did not know was one that is unmatched. Her energy was contagious and she lit up a room. Ella’s long-lasting fight is an inspiration to all individuals struggling with their own mental health or the mental health of their loved ones.
May, as Mental Health Awareness Month, is an amazing opportunity to spread knowledge and experiences to improve the understanding of mental health and how it affects everyone. Below are some resources to raise awareness about mental health and to seek assistance if you or someone you love is struggling and you want to find help.
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