"The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared..and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure." – Madeleine L'Engle
When we sat down this week to write this post, we immediately felt overwhelmed. We tried a few times to get started, but each time the words felt crowded with all the things there are to say about mental health. We could write about how many times a day people use the word crazy – to describe traffic and weather and windblown hair – and how if they knew what it was like to have that word used for them, maybe they'd use it with more care. We could write about how many of us have been told that our struggle is all in our heads as if something that happens in our minds is not real and present and formidable. We could write about how impossible it feels to be understood when we describe what we're going through because each person's mental health landscape is as varied and unique as ourselves.
Here's what we know. Your pain, your sadness, your fear, your anxiety, your compulsions, your intrusive thoughts, your exhaustion, your anger, your depression, your struggle is real. It's real and it's difficult and we take it seriously. For some of us, it is our struggle as well – so many of us that the World Federation for Mental Health established this day so that all around the world we can stop, take a moment together and say, "We can learn more. We can know more. We can do more together."
Here's something else we know. The World Health Organization estimates that one in four people in the world struggle with their mental health. You are not alone. We are in this together, and there are things we can do. We can advocate for greater access to resources of help for those who are struggling – especially those in under-served and under-resourced communities. We can talk – with our friends, with our families, in our communities. We can tell our own stories and listen to the stories of others. We can keep talking until the shame and stigma around these conversations shifts to a culture of trust, of listening and of safety.
And we can pray. Maybe prayer is not your thing, and that's okay. But, it is our thing. We believe prayer is an act of love and we believe when we pray, we are heard. So, today on World Mental Health Day – and also every other day – know that if you are hurting, we're holding you in our hearts and praying for your comfort and your peace.
If you need to talk to someone, you can call The Hope Line anytime day or night, 7 days a week, at 1-800-273-8255.