Our Side Of The Street

Did you know that May has been Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949?!?

I’d never had guessed it’d been around so long.  It seems just recently that there has been so much awareness in the media or maybe I’m just more aware as it has infiltrated it’s way into my family and life.

I’d read this great blog entry earlier this week about Chris Cornell.  I’m a solid Gen-Xer and his music is the music I grew up to and still enjoy today.  Normally, I hear of celebrities dying and while there may be a moment of silence and even a prayer for the grieving mother, my bandwidth is limited to my side of the street.  I get back to managing my own life.  But this death was a little different, a little closer to home, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until reading the blog entry.

Much like the rest of us, the world had kicked his ass a couple times, and he survived….

This was a well-respected member of his community; a beloved musical hero who seemed to have it all together. This could have been any of us…

Cornell is speaking to us all one last time. This isn’t something we left behind with our twenties. This isn’t something cured by age or financial security. This isn’t something you “outgrow.” If it’s allowed to fester, depression is stronger than wisdom. Depression is insidious and tenacious. Depression can get to anybody. It can make you feel like an old man at 27. It can make you feel lost as a child at 52. – Rich Larson

Here’s a guy that survived what we commonly call “a wild youth” – he and his whole generation of musicians lived that sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll wide open and full throttle.  Many, many died. But then he grew up. He’d been sober since 2006. He was a husband and a father. He made it.

…who seemed to have it all together…

And yet he died alone and in despair. It simply breaks my heart to imagine his pain.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as:  a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

It’s not enough to treat the illness.  That just gets you half-way.  Our health has to be one of our highest priorities.  And we never arrive. We never MAKE IT.  We must continue to strive, commit ourselves and make it a life style. We must keep our side of the street clean.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Physical: Get to the gym, walk the dog, try yoga, eat foods that really nourish your body.  Be mindful when eating to numb feelings.

Mental: Stop the stigma, stop the judgements. Be brave and get the help you need. Insist and assist help for loved ones.  Read a book or two. Learn a new skill.

Social/Emotional: Increase your resilience…keep getting up when life knocks you down. Discover meditation. Go to church. Find a group to practice a hobby. Be intentional on what you do with your time and feed your mind. Keep social media to a minimum. * Social media linked to depression.

And if you’re thinking “That’s great for you…but way too cliché or trite for me” then I IMPLORE you to figure out what you NEED to do to get/stay healthy. And again – it’s not enough to just not be sick – it’s about pushing though to being amazing.

Always available to chat – DM

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Donna Matthews is a blog writer at the DJRanch where she strives to remain authentic while not taking herself too seriously. She is also the creator of Slay The Chaos (www.slaythechaos.com), where she writes about productivity and organization. She is a member of The Writers Guild and Write Space in Houston and is currently writing her first book.