Mental health specialists say that one in four people will suffer a mental illness during their lives. The statistic is drastic, but the reality is much sadder and profound.
Look around you, right here, right now. Look at the other students sharing the dojo floor, sitting around the edges of the mats catching a breath; or those at work typing away at the office computer. Almost within arm’s reach is someone who is suffering the effects of mental illness.
You probably can’t tell by the way they look, and it won’t be obvious in the way they go about their martial arts practise or daily jobs. It is highly probable that, if you aren’t paying close attention, you won’t even notice it in the tones of their voice as they answer your ‘good morning’ and ‘good evenings’.
And why would you be paying attention, after all, you have your own problems with which to contend. Lack of awareness is not necessarily malicious or apathetic, only the product of life that moves faster than our abilities to keep up.
But when mental illness finally hits you or someone you love, as statistics suggest it probably will, you are forced to face the painful depths of its turbulent abyss.
We often reserve the term paralysis for the inability to move the body’s muscles. But as those suffering a mental illness know all too well, paralysis is equally attributable to matters of the mind, motivation and emotion. In many ways, concerning mental illness, the thing LEAST affected, is the body. Which is why it often goes undetected.
It is easier to find compassion for a body that we see ailing, broken and diseased before our eyes. The pallor of illness calls for our attention. But with mental illness, the signs are not so clear cut, and even harder to detect in someone who is keen to cover up their troubles because of shame and self-disgust at being ‘mentally weak’. Stigma compounds the effect.
So, with this in mind, I have decided to make April a month in which to draw attention to Mental illness and health. I hope, at least within the corners and communities of the world that I cohabit, to raise awareness, and in turn support for those suffering its darkness.
Firstly, throughout the entire of month of April, the profits of all of my website based book sales will be donated to mental health charities. If you would like to like to contribute in this way, please visit www.thehardestpath.com to buy your book.
Secondly, I publicly declare, in support of those ashamed to admit that they have suffered or are suffering from mental illness, that I too have experienced it, in the past. You are not alone. And there is no reason for you to feel ashamed.
If you also would like to show your support to others through a declaration, please post it on our Facebook page ‘Mental Health Month’. Follow this link to access it:
A series of single steps traverse distant lands; Dripping water has the power to erode rock; significant changes emerge from small, incremental and consistent acts of kindness. Your support is vital. Join us for Mental Health Month. Please.