“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” -Chinese Proverb
Well, they are using this hashtag on Twitter right now to talk about mental illness.
So, what do tree planting and talking about mental health have to do with each other? Well, for starters, there is a lot in common, as stated by the old proverb. Can you go back in time? Not that I know of. But can you start talking about mental health, plant that proverbial tree, now? Of course.
Let’s talk about some myths:
- “Mental illness has some rational beginning, and is reactive.” Sometimes it does, but most of the time it does not. As I have stated before, even people on top of the world have mental illness to deal with. Robin Williams, for instance.
- “Mental Illness only affects the people who act or look a certain way.” Would you be shocked if, and I am only saying if, Guy Fieri had depression? I would not. The losses of the once-strong Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain should have shaken that out of your mind.
- “Mental Illness is character weakness.” This comes from the belief that you earn health and wealth through finding favor with your chosen deity – known in some circles as The Prosperity Gospel. But what happens if, say, you get a mental illness? Does that mean you are not good enough? This false notion about mental illness believes you are not good enough…
- “Mental Illness can be cured with willpower, vitamins and exercise.” Sorry, Tom Cruise, but this is simply not true in many cases. Denying the sufferer the medicine, the very thing that provides relief, is cruelty.
- “Mental illness prevents you from holding down a job.” I HELD DOWN A JOB AT IN-N-OUT FOR SIX YEARS! Sorry for the shouting. This is simply not true. It is a corollary of the “character weakness” myth.
- “Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why not just take a pill?” Because much of the time, “taking a pill” is only a start. Many of us need a support system.
- “I can’t help.” Many, many people need your support. Just being there for them makes a big difference. It did with me.
- “Prevention is impossible.” Ever heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? The core of it is TRAUMA. That is one of my own mental illnesses, thanks to people in my family.
Mental health is coming out of the woodwork with or without you. It is connected to physical health as well. People are tired of losing their loved ones to suicide.