Hello everyone! This post is going to be a little different than my usual travel and lifestyle posts.
But really, what is lifestyle if you don’t actually share things about your real life?
So here I am, vulnerable AF, sharing with you all.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
For me, this is important for a few reasons.
First and foremost, I have a generalized anxiety disorder. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Lora, doesn’t everyone deal with anxiety?” and you would be correct. However, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is more than just experiencing anxiety sometimes. It’s more like: constant and unreasonable concern and worry about multiple things, sometimes for a valid reason, and sometimes for no reason. This concern and worry is difficult to control more often than not and is more extreme than the anxiety most people experience. For me, this means that to cope, I constantly have to be busy to distract myself from my anxiety. This can manifest itself in being super active on my campus, making to do lists constantly, or always being involved with my friends’ lives. However, because I tend to channel my anxiety into doing (mostly) productive things, it can seem like I don’t have GAD. But I do and millions of others do too, or are dealing with other problems and mental health issues. Everyone is on their own journey and will deal with it differently.
As well, I’m the newly elected President of a student organization on my campus called Come Out of the Dark (COTD). COTD has been a passion project of mine for the past two and a half years and I’m so excited to see what this next year holds for us. Anxiety and depression are extremely widespread at universities and the University of South Florida is no exception. COTD’s mission is to create a conversation about mental health that will destigmatize those with mental health issues, create a community where people can feel comfortable seeking help, and to help create positive change on our campus. The one thing I’m most proud of with COTD is that we have partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for two years to hold an Out of the Darkness Walk on USF’s campus and I know that not only are our organization members changed for the better because of this experience, but so are those who participated in the walk, and those who we ultimately helped by raising money for ASFP. I’m extremely passionate about creating a positive environment on our college campus for students to feel safe talking about mental health.
I could keep going on, but instead, I want to talk to you all quickly about what you can do in the month of May (and the rest of the year) to help raise awareness about Mental Health and help destigmatize it in your own community.
- Learn: understand the facts. What is true about mental health? What’s a myth? Who is affected? How are they affected? Knowledge is power.
- Discuss: now that you are equipped with the knowledge you need, discuss with others. Spread that knowledge. Challenge stereotypes. Revise problematic viewpoints. Empower people to think differently.
- Share: if you are impacted by mental health issues in any way, share your story. Help be a role model to those who need one. Give a voice to those too scared to speak up.
This May, I challenge you to do one of those three things. Then, do it again every month.