Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month: A Poem

Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month: A Poem

May might be winding down, but it’s still Mental Health Awareness month! I can guarantee you know at least one person with mental health struggles.

Let’s love our fellow humans!

mental health

an elusive title for

shared human experiences

that don’t seem quite right

bipolar

a mood disorder

defined by extreme

highs and lows

feelings of invincibility

flow into feelings

of crippling despair

sometimes more mania

sometimes more depression

sometimes a “normal”

somewhere in between

schizophrenia

when the mind can’t process information

and hallucinations

and delusions develop

voices are heard, things are seen

that do not exist

except in the mind

words don’t come out in an organized fashion

paranoia sets in

fear of impending danger

borderline

relationship building is broken

sometimes closeness to others

is desired

attention is sought heavily

and other times

seeking attention from others

comes through self harm, self sabotage, relationship sabotage

schizoaffective

a mixture of mood and processing

difficulty

mania and hallucinations, perhaps

or mania, paranoia,

and delusions

depends on the person

it all depends on the person

the labels given to individuals

may change over time

depending on the experience

in the point in time

the reality is

that bipolar sometimes looks like

not getting out of bed until 2pm

or always appearing disheveled

and sometimes it is spending

all the money a person has

and taking more from loved ones

just to spend even more

and sometimes it’s

forgetting to eat for several days

or racing thoughts

when thoughts come and go faster

than can be processed

an overwhelming, possibly anxiety producing experience

and the sometimes schizophrenia

looks like being afraid that those closest to you

might just harm you

with nothing to back up the fear

so afraid, the thought is the only thing

racing through the mind

for hours

for days

stuck in bed crippled by the paranoia

sometimes it means that instead of saying “I don’t feel like watching TV”

the words “The TV, yeah, I enjoyed the pasta, don’t you know the color of your eyes, my moms pretty s…”

fall out instead

sometimes schizophrenia means following the harmful suggestions

of the voices in the mind

please know, these voices are as real as the chair you are sitting on, the floor you are standing on

sometimes they have names

personalities

unsettling? it’s okay to feel that way.

the voices are real

because someone hears them. sometimes even interacts with them. learns to cope to drown them out.

depression

anxiety

OCD

anxiety

phobias

substance abuse

PTSD

the people who don’t quite fit into a category

or the people who live without ever knowing they fit into a category

the list goes on

just as difficult as it is

to fit and stay in one “category”

the root cause

may never be known

sometimes genetics

sometimes trauma

abuse, or neglect

sometimes stress

sometimes a random event

many times a combination

humans are broken

some bodies more broken than others

some minds more broken than others

still broken

still beautiful

still deserving of love

even in the day to day chaos

the not knowing how they will act next

but do you even know how you will act next?

get to know someone

who doesn’t appear

what society has defined as

normal

we fear what we do not

know

so know them.

do not treat them

as disabled or incompetent

do not safeguard them

from your preconceived ideas

of what might concern them

do not shy away from the

possibility of reckless behavior, of strange decisions, of self harm, of suicide.

and know not everyone is going to harm themselves. know that if someone might…they need help.

enter into that relationship

it’s okay to feel fear

at first

i was there once

unsure of how to act

of how to respond

but watch how others treat the person

start, perhaps, by mimicking how they treat the individual

it’s okay, it’s how we learn

watch how others treat the person

with dignity, respect

like any other human

they are any other human

they are your best friend

your coworker

your barista

your neighbor

your pastor

your favorite artist

your father

your child

they are yours to love

so love them.