By Lexi Masarweh | Staff Writer
For most of my life, I have dealt with mental health issues. Most of my friends know I suffer from severe anxiety and depression, and I am not shy about it. However, this was not always the case. I strongly believe it’s important to destigmatize mental health.
There is a stigma around mental illness that should not exist. Some people perceive having a mental illness as negative and say it’s “all in the person’s head.” This ideology causes people to be ashamed of having mental health issues and makes them not want to ask for help.
I have personally been told multiple times that I have nothing to be sad about and that I need to count my blessings more. This would make me feel like I’m being ungrateful and that my problems do not matter. I would bottle up my emotions and be in a depressive episode that would last for what felt like forever.
Those feelings lasted until my best friend, Alexis Lovelace, taught me that my problems, however big or small, do matter. She has helped me immensely throughout my mental health journey.
I used to think that having mental illnesses was bad and that there was something wrong with me. At one point in my life, I was a victim of believing the stigma around mental health.
It took a lot of self-growth to realize that it’s okay to have mental illnesses. Once I realized it’s normal to suffer from mental health issues, I started to see a therapist. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five U.S. adults have a mental illness.
Recently, mental health has been talked about more. For example, Simone Biles withdrew from the Tokyo 2020 gymnastics team event final due to her mental health. I found this to be extremely courageous of her, as she realized her mental health is the No. 1 priority. Also, Naomi Osaka shined light on her mental health and the importance of taking care of it.
It’s okay to have mental health issues. It’s okay to seek help for it. This does not make you weak. This makes you stronger because it takes so much courage to reach out.