Opening Up The Conversation On Mental Health

"When there's unity, nothing is impossible. "

Welcome to May, we're so glad you are here with us to enjoy another beautiful month of making the world a better place. As you may know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We wanted to use this opportunity to join in on the conversation and learn more together as a storytelling community.

That's how we landed on a vulnerability photo project. Vulnerability is something very close to my heart.

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Living with a mental illness like Generalized Anxiety Disorder which is what I have, is like living with two heads. Your mind is constantly busy thinking of every single detail and when I mean EVERY SINGLE DETAIL, I'm not kidding. The simplest of tasks can cause so much anxiety and fear; even writing your thoughts down can be overwhelming because there is so much going on.

At times I can really feel so alone and defeated. It's not easy to understand because anxiety isn't tangible for people to see. When someone looks at you like you're weird because you're having an anxiety attack, well, it's really disheartening.

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There is so much stigma circulating around mental illness, partially because it's not something you can really see and touch. But 1 out of 5 people have a mental illness, which means a friend or a family that you know is probably struggling from a mental illness. And unfortunately that person is probably keeping it a secret because they're afraid of the consequences of what will happen if they publicize their illness.

If you're new to mental health, you're probably wondering how you can help your person and let them know they're not alone. The best place to start would be to first educate yourself. My favorite site is Nami.org. Here's a handy infographic Nami created on mental health facts, talking more about consequences, impact and treatment.

Secondly, we can all exercise our empathy. Empathy is probably one of the hardest things for any of us to do. We live in such a fast paced world that it's easy for us to get caught up in only focusing on our own well being or staying afloat ourselves. But in order to really help your person with a mental illness, you need to let down your own walls and listen. It's a learning process for the both of you but when you listen and feel with your heart, your person will feel that too.

Last but not least, we'd love to dedicate the month to using photography to open up the conversation on mental health. It all starts with vulnerability. You can participate by simply capturing moments of vulnerability and tagging them with #gramforacause. Also feel free tag your person in the photo to let them know you care and understand and will help end the stigma so that they can live in the world free from judgement!  I can't wait to see your posts, and from a person who does suffer from a mental illness, thank you. Thank you for helping us feel like we're apart of the world and that we matter!

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