Hey readers! I’m so excited to join StayWhole Magazine as a contributing writer in our new section dedicated specifically to mental health topics. I am super pumped about it, and I hope you are, too! We will cover all kinds of mental health topics. Some of our entries will be educational and informative, and some will be more emotional and experiential. Either way, I think you will learn a lot about what it’s like to live with a mental illness, how you can help someone you love who has a mental illness, or how to spot a mental illness in someone.
To start, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Melissa. I’m 42. I’ve been married 21 years, and have three beautiful children, ages 19, 17, and 12. We are a military family, but are soon to be a retired military family. Amen! I took the long, adventurous route figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I finally figured it out. So, after earning degrees in music and business, I ultimately landed on counseling. I am now on my way to becoming a licensed counselor, and loving every challenging minute of it! I love helping people live their best lives. I’ve also discovered an absolute love of writing in the last few years. It has become a lifeline of sorts. It’s become my voice, in many ways. I’m so very thankful to be able to use that voice here!! Oh, and another thing – I use a lot of !!!!! when I write! May as well just get used to it now!!!
Another important thing to know about me is that I have bipolar disorder. I have a love/hate relationship with this aspect of my life, which I will write about in later blogs. For now, I’ll just say that living with this disorder has taught me more than I could ever have imagined I needed to learn about myself, mental health, and just life in general. I can’t wait to share all of this with you!
As I was preparing to write, I looked up some statistics about mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness, with 1 in 25 being serious mental illness, each year; 1 in 6 U.S. children (ages 6-17) experience a mental health disorder each year; and suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. among 10-34 year olds. (https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers).
These numbers are sobering. It’s time we start paying attention to these issues. It’s time we start doing something to end the stigma against mental illness. I hope that, here at StayWhole Magazine, we can do our part to educate about the many aspects of mental health. So many of us struggle with these things silently, and we don’t need to any longer. Let’s come together. Let’s stand up. Let’s unite to make a difference! Together, we can!
by: Melissa Anderson