“We form opinions and then spend our entire lifetime validating what we believe to be true. This rigidity is sad, because there is so much we can learn from points of view that are different from our own. It’s also sad because the stubbornness it takes to keep our heart and mind closed to everything other than our own point of view creates a great deal of inner stress.”
This past week was International Mental Illness Awareness week. It’s a time when we reflect on the many different stressors that can affect the healthy functioning of our brain- what can inflict it, how you can manage it, and remembering those who couldn’t. Our brain is a complex part of our body and responsible for how we operate during the day (and night), and the smallest amount of stress that we experience can have the most interesting outcomes.
Take my friend Jayson for example. Without realizing it, he has been stressing about the upcoming week because of the amount of work he has to do. He started organizing his personal space at home until his mom asked him what was bothering him. Although he insisted it was nothing, she told him that ever since he was young, when something bothered him, he would clean his room. When Jayson thought about it, he realized that he found a sense of control over the tasks he had to accomplish once he organized his working atmosphere. His actions mimic that of a metaphor. Once he felt organized, he knew he could move on to bigger projects.
Now, I understand that this isn’t always the case for everyone. Cleaning our workspace doesn’t necessarily mean our stress is going to be alleviated. It can be much bigger than that. This is why it is important to seek out help and talk to someone about the issues that may be affecting your mental health. Because, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “mental illnesses can take many forms, just as physical illnesses do,” and not everyone knows how to handle it.
Mental illness isn’t limited to one age; it can affect anyone. According to a recent article, Senior suicide: The tricky task of treatment, published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), aging adults are one of the hardest generations to diagnose and treat because, “they have often been taught, or conditioned to keep such problems behind closed doors or disinclined to acknowledge depression or a desire to die.” Essentially, it is hard to get them to break out of the “private-realm” they live in so as not to “risk damage” to their reputation or pride.
Recognizing mental health this month may have only lasted for a week, but it is an ongoing illness. You can’t force an aging adult to talk to you, but you can encourage them to seek advice, offer to help them find someone they could speak with, or let them know that you are always ready and willing to listen. It’s a delicate topic, and nobody wants to admit when they are stuck between a rock and a hard place, not knowing how to get out. But sometimes, a helping hand is all you need to make the first few steps to a healthier and happier you.