Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mental Health Awareness

Get out your scissors, folks! As soon as you take off the teal ribbons of April. replace them with purple, please. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and (like over a dozen other causes) is symbolized by a purple ribbon.

If you think it's all about supporting crazy people, you're bonkers. Well, partly - we won't ignore the truly insane, of course. But just like it's a good idea to check your physical condition regularly, it's smart to take stock of your mental health!

Has the stress been building? Trouble sleeping? Feeling fatigued lately? Things causing more frustration or irritation than usual? Less excited about activities you like? These are warning signs you shouldn't be ignoring.

Mental health is similar to physical health in a lot of ways. One, we tend to ignore minor symptoms of problems. Two, when we do, we allow illness to escalate and make it more difficult to treat. Three, we tend to rationalize symptoms or excuse them rather than admit that something isn't right, and many end up suffering in silence.

I had a chance to see just that thing this week when I met a young woman with obvious problems. Her acquaintances were frustrated with her behavior and knew something wasn't right, but they only saw the tip of the iceberg. My first-impression diagnosis of something from the schizo family wasn't far wrong. The diagnosis: what we now call Antisocial Personality Disorder. In other words, she's a sociopath.

Not common, thankfully, especially for females. And while pretty much all serial killers are sociopaths, not all sociopaths are serial killers, so I'm praying she doesn't keep escalating. And all the while I couldn't help think that she didn't start life that way. At one time, she was a happy little girl and people liked her. More along that line in another post.

Anyway, if you really want to go all-out, National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is May 8, which is either ironic or just plain funny this year, depending on your point of view, since it's also Mother's Day.