Mental Illness Awareness Week Guest Blog by CA Alliance Intern, Cate Sievers

October 6, 2022

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Guest Blog by CA Alliance Intern, Cate Sievers

Hidden all around us, millions of people are being impacted by mental illness both directly and indirectly. The masses are silently suffering, and stigma pushes them into the shadows where they can never get the help that they need, and where they’re stuck with the illusion that they’re going through this alone. This is what makes it so important that we recognize mental illness awareness week, and finally put a spotlight on mental health and illnesses. 

Talking about your personal struggles with mental illness not only serves to empower you as an individual, but it also contributes to removing the stigma around mental illness for everyone.  For me, it was through hearing the stories of some brave individuals that I felt strong and validated enough to go on my own journey to face my own mental illness. I knew I wasn’t alone, and going through the process of getting help felt far less daunting. 

This year's mental illness awareness week's theme is, What I’d Wish I’d Know, which focuses on the power of lived experiences. This theme really highlights the power of vulnerability, and shows how much your experiences can really help someone else starting their own journey. 

When I finally was able to come to terms with my anxiety and accepted that I needed help, I thought that would be the hardest part of my process. Yet, little did I know I was in for a whirlwind of a ride. The process of finding a therapist itself is extremely overwhelming on face value, but when you think about actually trying to find a therapist that you have a connection with it gets even harder. Searching for a therapist that was both right for me and at a cost I could afford felt impossible, and there were many times where finding help didn’t feel worth it anymore. 

I found the same thing occurring when I began trying out anxiety medications and seeing a psychiatrist. I found myself spiraling, filled with unfounded anxieties about what would happen if I was on SSRIs. To top it off, my body reacted horribly to the first medications I tried. I felt extremely freaked out with everything that was going on, and it truly wasn’t until I finally decided to talk to other people dealing with the same things that I found so much solace and comfort. Most importantly, I now knew what questions to ask my provider and was given an invaluable roadmap to finding a medication that works best for me. Now with the mix of medications and therapy, I’ve grown so much and come further than I could have ever imagined.

Mental illness exists in a variety of forms and it is essential that we bring every single one of them to light. Your journey is not meant to go through alone, and by elevating the voices of those with lived experiences we can make sure that never has to happen to anyone. Shifting to a world of transparency and openness will free us all, empowering each and every one of us to become the best versions of ourselves. This week, make sure you continue to bring mental health and illness into the spotlight by recognizing mental illness awareness week.

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