From Victim to Victor: A Professional's View on Mental Health
As you read this content, please be mindful of transparency. The purpose of my transparency is to capitalize on the importance of honesty and disclosure for healing and awareness. I remain honest with myself to exude a genuine approach to my personal view on mental health. Every person that is meant to read this post will stumble across it in just the right time. Think— “What can I get out of this post today? Can I share this with someone who may take something from it?”
So, as you're beginning to delve into this post, you may already have preconceived notions based on your own reality of what mental health means. As a professional in the field, I have a very clear understanding of the gray area that lies within many components of understanding this concept. Mental health captures the emotional resiliency, physical/medical wellness, and the psychological well being of individuals.
Mental health is everything. Mental health is not just schizophrenia, depression, or dissociation identity disorder.
Three Ways to Maintain Your Mental Wellness:
1. Check in with yourself and do what you need to do to make sure that you are okay. Maintain your mental wellness. There is nothing wrong with asking for help and seeking support when you need it.
2. Power and control become essential tools in the maintenance of mental wellness. Sit with the idea that the only person you can even begin to manage is yourself. Look at your life and recognize the resilience you possess.
3. External factors tend to be the influence when we are struggling, try to understand that they are beyond your reach—you cannot control them, but they influence our wellness. Isn’t that interesting? We humans have the ability to experience multiple emotions in minutes—some of us have a broader array of coping strategies to handle diversity in emotions. The ability to cope is based on traumatic exposure including adverse experiences in childhood and adulthood, the support system in place, and other learned behaviors for survival.
All of our experiences influence our mental health—that break-up you may still not have moved past after 4 years, the verbal altercations you may have with your colleagues/co-workers every other day, the tainted relationship you may have with your mother, the false idea that you may have that you don’t need anyone. Situations like I have described are red flags to identify maladaptive reactions and limited coping mechanisms. I have learned that experiences capture the essence of your journey and solidify passion and purpose in this life. Experiences drive painters to paint the artwork that elaborates the complexion of their soul. The unlawful conviction of one man replaces the ability of another man growing up in a two parent household, and in turn that man goes on to create a mentorship program for young fatherless sons. A graduating high school senior was raped and now works to fight the stigma against mental health 10 years later. That was me.
Life can show up in ways that you never imagined. This experience had nothing to do with the way that I was raised by my parents or the education I would go on to attain. What happened was nothing I could have predicted and it is now an unavoidable fixture of unfortunate events that happened in my life. From victim to victor, I can say that this skyrocketed my passion for understanding people and having empathy for their life experiences. This experience tainted my mental wellness, but it does not define my existence. I struggled with my own sense of self worth and this is still a battle for me. I have my days. Some days are really hard, and others are awesome! Just like Mary Jane Paul, I need those sticky notes. I needed and still need reminders of how awesome I am just being me. This is one of the ways I maintain my mental wellness.
Life happens— we have to learn how to manage the ebb and flow. Check in with yourself, be aware of your emotions, own your failures as lessons, and seek support when you need it. Mental wellness is a major key.