When illness becomes wellness | Letter

“A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support.” Kate Middleton spoke those words.

We, as parents, peers, teachers, friends and family fail to see how much mental health impacts someone suffering. According to the Center for Discovery, anxiety, alone, affects one out of 10 people. That statistic only includes those who have spoken up. I only have a few friends/peers who do not have at least one mental illness.

Doesn’t anyone see something wrong with that? Imagine feeling so numb and exhausted but also feeling a never-ending rush of adrenaline go through you because you can’t physically get out of bed in the morning and start your day, but you know you NEED to go to school or work. Depression and anxiety come hand in hand; like partners in crime.

According to TeenMentalHealth.org, mental illness and physical illness are alike but also very unalike. Although you can’t see or hear a mental illness, it’s still there. Yet, those who don’t suffer, don’t understand that. They don’t understand that it’s like a broken arm. When you have a broken arm, usually it’s put into a cast to immobilize it, so you don’t use it and injure it more.

We can’t put our brains in a cast. We can’t still function if we immobilize our brains. They can’t heal if they’re never relaxed. Everyone runs to you to sign your cast, but everyone runs in the opposite direction when they hear you are depressed, have anxiety, etc. That is one of the main reasons why most people who are have a mental illness don’t speak up.

And a lot of those people are teens. According to the Center for Discovery, about two-thirds of teens with depression also battle another mood disorder such as anxiety, an anti-social disorder, substance abuse, bipolar, etc. Most people don’t realize that ADHD and ADD are also mental illness. Eating disorders are mental illnesses too.

We have tools that can help us work on this issue. For instance, there are hotlines, support groups, therapy and friends. But you, as the friend/parent/teacher/peer, need to be the one to reach out because asking for help is difficult — but even more difficult if you are dealing with a mental illness.

I need YOU to call or text your friends, ask them how they are and actually listen. Also, be consistent about it; don’t just ask them after something tragic happens. Everyone is a part of the healing process.

This is important to all of us because just about everyone is affected by mental illness — whether it’s you or someone you care about. All of us need help at some point in our lives. When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘we,’ illness becomes wellness.

Chelsey Kalanick

Bothell

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