I know it’s so hard to believe that this incredibly well put together human once couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings. But for two yeras of my life, the days where I lay in bed all day were much more frequent than the days I was able to go out and enjoy the world. I’ve suffered from major depressive disorder for years now, and once believed I’d never be able to live a happy healthy life of my own.

My depressive episodes and anxiety are tied to a chronic illness I’ve suffered with since I had mono as an eighteen year old. I’ve also had multiple head traumas that caused the chemicals in my brain to have a hard time adjusting to the world around me. Importantly, neither of those facts connected to my mental health have anything to do with who I am as a person. My depression and anxiety stems from medical, factual issues with my brain chemistry. They are NOT a result of any sort of personal failure on my part.

Use Mental Health Awareness Month as a chance to educate yourself on all of the reason that struggling with mental health is not your fault.

If I have any message at all to the people dealing with mental health issues this month, it’s this: Use May as a chance to educate yourself on all of the reasons that struggling with mental health is not your fault. There is so much stigma attached to struggling with mental health that many internalize this idea of weakness, or failure, or shame. I am here to say that the people I have known who struggled with mental health issues are some of the strongest, bravest men and women I know.

You are not responsible for mental health issues that you suffer with – you are only responsible with how you live your live in response. Throughout the month I will be resharing some of my former mental health posts, sharing accounts and resources for combatting things like social anxiety and depression, and emphasizing surrounding yourself with a community who understands where you are coming from.

There are so many people in this world who really care about you because of, and not in spite of who you are. And your mental health, good or bad is a part of who you are. Don’t shy away from that reality. Instead, honor who you are by giving yourself the best equipment you need to create a happy, healthy life. It’s no different than any other lifestyle change made to accomodate who a person is. Athletes eat different than most people. Cancer patients take medication to help them get better. If your leg is broken you wear a cast. If you struggle with mental health issues, you build a set of treatments and choices that boost those chemicals in your brain that need the help. You are valuable and worthy of making those choices for yourself.

Check out my other posts about living with depression and anxiety here and let me know what specific issues you’d like addressed this month!