My story on World Mental Health Day.
During my journey caring for my mother, who suffered from malnutrition, I learned a lot about the brain. This magnificent organ is the conductor in the symphony we call our body. All functions are connected to it. How we see, taste, feel, hear, smell, maneuver around our environment, digest our food, grow our cells… everything. The brain beautifully knows each instrument’s part and just the right flick of the baton that is required to initiate something the body needs. And if that was not enough, it also cares for our thoughts and emotions. What a miracle!
Your brain is no different than any other organ in your body. Your kidneys, lungs and heart need good nutrition, exercise, and hydration to serve you well and occasionally, a checkup to help make them healthy again. Why would your brain and mental health be any different?
Today, I ask you to take a closer look at your brain and how you are feeling.
Several years ago, I knew I was feeling overwhelmed after a long string of losses. Much like I could not just “suck it up” and get over a strep throat, I knew I could not feel better emotionally on my own. My brain was asking for additional support, and I am so grateful I listened. For some reason society sees needing mental health help as a weakness. This is wrong. I would say it's just the opposite; by acknowledging my need and seeking help, I was being brave. Reaching out to get a referral was one of the single best and bravest things I have done in my life for my own self-care.
I want to remove the stigma around seeking help.
My dream is to make mental health self-care
as common, comfortable and accepted
as calling your primary care when you have a strep throat.
I have learned so much through my conversations with my therapist, and have a deeper understanding now of situations, people, myself and my approach to life. Honestly, I think everyone can benefit from therapy at one time or another. When I felt I was stronger and healthier, I extended the time between our chats a bit further. Finally, I took some time off - knowing that my therapist, like my primary care, would be there when I needed them.
And so today, it I with pride in myself that I say, #iwasbrave and I am better for it. Let’s talk about mental health self-care and our own experiences and make seeking help as comfortable as booking your yearly physical. And if life is making you feel overwhelmed, there is help, I promise! Call your PCP, a friend, or this number. Go ahead, BE BRAVE.
Author Cathy Stenquist filling her cup in a New England sunflower field.