Just like our physical health, mental health is something that requires adequate attention in order to successfully thrive. When compromised, it should be addressed just as seriously as someone dealing with a broken limb, cardiac arrest or a terminal disease.
Taking for granted the “invisible” conditions that run rampant in our world leaves us all at a disadvantage. From the greatest loss of an individual’s life down to the loss of personal contributions to our progress as a nation, the resulting impact is more visible than many of us care to admit. Openly acknowledging that detrimental effects are experienced by both, those indirectly and directly affected by mental health issues, has proven to be an even greater challenge.
As someone who has chosen to make it their life mission to encourage people to dream big and turn those dreams into reality, there is an irony in that I battle with the ills of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Sometimes I have very good days, and sometimes I have stretches that are just awful.
The worst days come when I falsely label myself as hypocritical because I’m working to encourage others even during my own spans of turmoil and discouragement. Internal messages that say things like “How can you help somebody else when you can’t even get your own life together?” haunt me terribly during those moments.
I scramble through in these times to cling to the truth — that my life is indeed intended with a purpose. Personally, trying to manage the fine line between acceptance and self-judgment has proven to be a very tough struggle for me. Yet, my motto is to never give up.
Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
This serves as a continuous reminder to me that for as long as I am among the living, I should use all that I am and all that I’ve been given to show reverence to the One who created me. So, right along with my strengths, I must also be courageous enough to use my weaknesses. All of the down moments, the irrational thoughts, and the times of panic and fright prompt me to seek answers and better understand this humbling battle.
As a result, I can then help others who are directly or indirectly affected in a similar way to know that depression or anxiety doesn’t have to end in a life of crippling limitations.
During my journey, I’ve learned that the mind-body connection is a very powerful one. Taking care to maintain a routine of proper rest, diet and exercise helps me to make great strides in my personal fight. Combining this with staying tapped in to my spiritual source greatly enables me to rebound and experience a healthier balance in order to be effective at what I do.
Last, but not least, feeding on positive affirmation, both from within and externally, allows me to better maintain these gains and sustain my progress beyond the dark spaces. Through self-care, I have come to embrace the truth that an illness does not define me, and each new day that I am given reinforces for me the significance of my purpose here — to encourage others to fulfill their own.
The bottom line is that we all matter. A greater truth I’ve yet to find.
Columbus’ April Ige is a writer, poet and speaker leading a motivational outreach called Dream Wide Awake, inspiring people to live their dreams. She can be reached at aprilige.com.