Why Mental Health Matters to Me





One secret I fail to keep is that I grew up poverty-stricken. Food banks, Hud housing, and bill roulette was ingrained in the Rice Household daily. With the lack of funds came the lack of proper medical care. I can count on one hand the times I saw a doctor when I was a child. And two of those times were emergencies (shot in the head and a sliced finger). So, it shouldn't come as a shock that mental health was nowhere on my radar.

Therapy? That was a luxury for rich white people. There was a mentality that you just had to suck it up and move on if you were sad. And for boys (which I was, duh) you were told not to show emotion and to just rub some dirt on it. Dirt is gross and so is projecting this onto young boys.

I was always pretty emotional (#Pisces), but at times I would go over the top with my cryfests. I remember at one point in time, we had an entertainment center, but no television. That was okay though, I spent most of my time playing outside or reading. However one day, after discovering the slot for the TV was perfect for an eight-year-old to fit in AND that there was a set of sliding doors on the front to hide me away from the world, I made the piece of furniture a hang-out spot.

Equipped with a pillow and a lamp inside so I could read, it was a great spot. At times did I feel like I was going to have a heat stroke? Yes. But did that stop me? No. It became my happy place. Yet, I still would become upset over the smallest things and would find myself crying for hours on end. Eventually, I tainted this happy book nook by letting myself cry myself to sleep one night because I wanted Tuna Helper for dinner, but we had something else instead.

Sweaty and salty-faced, I woke up after what felt like days of crying. I washed my face off and made my way to my actual bed. Just as much as I did not know how to cope with my sadness, my mother and other adults in my life didn't know how to handle it either. "You're being dramatic" was the only explanation that was given.

I look back now and wonder how different it would have been if our family received professional help when it came to mental health. Not to send shock waves, but I was not the only one who showed signs of struggling with mental wellbeing. Nevertheless, there was no chance to properly work on our household's depression or anger issues.

Fast forward to me now, I am all for seeking help for mental health. I want to break the stigma around it, not just for me, but for anyone who has ever been told to suck it up or rub some dirt on it. Therapy, medication, and meditation have brought me bliss in life. No more locking myself away to cry over meal choices.

I wish everyone could receive the tools to help them keep their mental health stable. Especially in the past year! May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I want to keep sharing my story to help not only bring awareness but to let anyone struggling know that they are not alone. You do not have to suffer in silence.

I hope that society becomes much more aware of the struggles with the nation's mental health. I also wish that the resources were readily available for ALL (that's a whole different article). I challenge you to take time to check in with yourself and work on your state of mind. And if you are suffering, please know that just talking about it will feed your soul. I know it is cheesy, but I do want us to come together to become a much happier world.





Of course in extreme cases, extreme help is needed. If you every feel like you can't handle life anymore, please reach out and talk. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is there for you, 24/7.

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