"I tell my story not so that I get glory, but so others may know HOPE."
It’s that time again… May is Mental Health Awareness Month so this is a very special time for all of us. While we raise awareness for mental health and mental illness 365 days of each year, we especially honor the month of May and contribute to the spotlight mental health deserves.
What is mental health anyway?
Mental health is technically defined as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well being.” It affects how we think, feel and act. We all have it as we all experience a range of emotions and feelings throughout the course of our lives. And when we do experience “mental health problems or issues,” then it affects our entire being and how we live each day. This is when we should be careful and be aware that there is nothing wrong with having a “problem” or an illness even. A problem is a problem and an illness is an illness we can all recover from. Neither an illness nor any struggle defines who we are. There is always help available and there is always hope.
As many of you may already know, I was diagnosed with depression back when I was in college. I suffered from it severely for almost 10 years of my life...(and I still go through occasional episodes today). I didn’t tell anyone nor discuss it with family and friends. I was afraid of being judged. I was ashamed that there was something “wrong” with me. I let it become a part of my identity because I didn’t know any better. I had no one to talk to whom I felt could understand. So for me, what was the point of sharing or talking to others if they wouldn’t understand what I was going through anyway? Why should I even bother, and even risk being criticized? So, I suffered in silence for many years. It wasn’t easy. I felt all alone in this dark pit and I had no one….until one day, with God’s grace and after many years of medication and many self-help books, I made a conscious decision that I would never give up and I would keep fighting. Alone or not, I found it in me to just keep fighting through these struggles. Again, it wasn’t easy. I continued to fall into dark traps and I made many mistakes along the way. Slowly, but surely though, I started to get more grounded and stable. I continued my therapy and I kept fighting… and going.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago. I started Link of Hearts with a simple desire to share my story to help anyone out there who may be feeling what I felt and went through. I could let them, or YOU know that I understand and I am here to help and remind you that there is hope. I am not a professional expert in any way, but I know what it’s like to struggle with something you cannot control. I know because I went through it all. I’ve been hospitalized, I attempted suicide and I suffered from depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. So, I get it. I understand and I can feel your pain. And I am here to offer two simple things, compassion and empathy. And this is why I created Link of Hearts.
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Month is especially fun and exciting for me because of the current campaign we launched this May. Late last year, I came across an image of a baby elephant and thought it was really cute and adorable. Immediately, the phrase “elephant in the room” just came to mind. I knew what it meant but I looked it up and checked the actual definition of the phrase because I immediately had an idea for Link of Hearts. It is defined as, an English metaphorical saying for an obvious truth that is being unaddressed. The expression also applies to an evident problem or risk that NO ONE wants to discuss…and I thought, this is it! And this campaign was born.
We all know mental illness is something no one wants to talk about due to shame, embarrassment and most of the time, a lack of knowledge. Therefore, I created this campaign using an elephant charmed necklace to symbolize this stigma. It is a conversational piece where we can play with words and talk about mental illness in a lighter, more comfortable manner.
For every purchase of this elephant piece, we will donate 25% of the proceeds to Bring Change 2 Mind, a nonprofit organization built to start a conversation about mental health by creating PSA’s and university and high school programs that engage students to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. I am partnering with them since I am also looking to connect with and support teenagers and young adults in their early twenties. Personally, I believe that I already had some symptoms when I was that age, only no one talked about mental health then so I didn’t know anything about it. As a result, I feel passionate in starting the conversation with young people to prevent further shame and stigma.
That said, I hope you will join us in this campaign and movement.
Let’s continue the conversation and let’s talk about #thegreenelephantintheroom.
We believe that together, our voices are louder.