Mental health is more than just the categorised illnesses and disorders we know about

“You are so passionate about mental health, why?”

I was once asked this question, my response was first laughter then I preceded to say

“Iv always loved psychology and why we do they things we do. I worked in mental health and found that helping people was just want Iv always wanted to do. In South Africa there a lot of misunderstanding about mental health and people suffer because of the stigma but I believe its born out of fear and when we remove that fear people will be able to find more compassion for those in difficulty. I also believe we all have mental health just like we have physical health. It can be good or ill and it doesn't need to be in the extreme for us to notice and take care of ourselves. The human mind is the most powerful tool we have and being alive to our mental health just helps us harness that power and that empowers not only us but those around us as well”

For a more in-depth answer to this question read Mental Pulse…The mental health pulse of our society

Answering this question lead me to think and wondering why is it that this question keeps coming up? Why is it that it is surprising, even shocking that mental health awareness is something to be passionate about, something that drives me.

Often whilst working in mental health I came across one extreme. People in so much distress needing assistance. Their lives derailed by circumstances and situations that had unfolded over many years leaving them in need of intense care. As a result I believed that this was the only face of mental health difficulty but this meant neglecting my own mental health as I always thought there are other people in the world who have much bigger problems then I do, an idea I inherited in my childhood. I thought it could be worse, right … wrong.

When I was 12 my mother migrated to another country and I was left with family. Though the experience was positive that’s not to say that my mental health wasn't affected. My whole world in an instant had to change and my 12 year old self had to make sense of this. Six months later the same thing happened again, I moved to go live with my mother. My world again thrown into a whirlwind I somehow had to convince myself it was for the better yet again neglecting the mental health impact all of this had. For the next few years the identity struggle I faced was one that propelled me into an emotional rollercoaster with is life even worth living super lows and enormously intoxicating highs feeling liking I'm about to attain the thing that I’ve always wanted because there is so much opportunity in my future, so I was told. There was a content wanting though, a yearning. The result however was always the same. I was always left feeling empty because that thing I was chasing I thought I’d find outside of me, in my external world and I had to do was find it so my quest began.

Through the journey of self discovery taking place over several years and life events that felt like they broke me but ultimately helped defined my strength I found the realisation that mental health is something we all have and we all have a duty to ourselves to look after it just like we do our physical health. Read more about this in Mental health as important as physical health.

So I find myself and others like me in a group I like to call the missing middle. When addressing mental health the world doesn't focus enough on the missing middle, much like the middle child not really having a sense of belonging so they say, the missing middle finds itself not able to express their mental health difficulty or even feel like they have a right to call it that. So how could you possibly identify, how could you relate but is mental health really about that. Do you need a diagnosis to identify as having difficulty?

All throughout our lives we fight battles more often than not these happen internally as we seek to find and understand ourselves in context to the world we live in. Some battles are heavier than others and these are fought in our minds. Fortifying our mental health and building mental strength we find ways of winning not only these battles but the war.

Share your battle stories no matter how big or small because mental

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