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  • Writer's pictureA.S. Morris

a semi-eponymous kind of life…

If there was ever a reason for someone to claim a month as their own, it would be me and May.

You see, May is my one stop shop, anniversary, Mother’s Day, birthday; all three of these events occur within the first two weeks of the month. My husband doesn’t really embrace the same level of excitement as I. While this month of celebrations is truly riveting, I’m not really one to make a big deal. We will be married a year longer, I will be a year older, and my evolving skills of motherhood will have circled the sun once more.

The thing is I love my husband just as much on July 11th as I do on May the first. I am a momma every. single. day. My children are so wonderful to remind me 4,367 times a day with some impressive decibels that I am indeed “MOM.” Their grubby hands, smooches, snuggles, and shenanigans always ever present. As I have aged, quasi gracefully, the years aren’t that different; 37 will likely be similar to 36 however, less pandemic-y, I hope.

And well how about some bonus points, May is an anagram of my first name; not many people can place that fun fact on their résumé. In fact I am not sure any other month could be an anagram for a common name. Yes, yes I appreciate that names are all sorts of unique these days. Im talking generic names like most of us geriatric millennials have.

While I am sure you couldn’t imagine having yet another highlight in your semi-eponymous month; May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s like the triple crown for me folks ; ehh except with four things, you get the point.

I struggle, survive, excel, embrace, loath, fight, thrive, champion, endure, slay all things mental health. Some days I roll all those experiences into one, I’m an over achiever. My particular penchant for mental health falls under anxiety, depression, and a dash of PTSD. Like I said, triple crown.

The thing about mental health is that I never realized the physical toll it could take on you. Well, I knew in the sense that my career and some college classes told me it did however until you “feel” those feelings, damn. It’s kind of like all the things you learn and experience with pregnancy, labor, and the fourth trimester that no one really tells ya about. Until you experience it, you don’t “get” it.

For me the physical side of struggles presents in fidgeting, bouncing my right foot, my shoulders and upper back get tight. It’s miserable. Work is the hardest. If I’m in a setting where I need to quell these symptoms the amount of focus it takes while still forming a coherent thought, it’s Rubik’s cube level talent. It’s exhausting. If I’m having a rough day, I’ll keep to my office and take joy in utilizing the virtual component that exists with most meetings. My ability to wing it in meetings is impacted on my bad days. I’m blonde and there doesn’t seem to be enough brain cells when I have to quell my anxiety and sound like I at least graduated from the third grade.

I have a couple colleagues I’ll let my guard down with when I’m at work and having a bad day. They know my past, they know why I’m fidgety or bouncy, we discuss what needs discussing; we go about our day and the earth keeps spinning. Granted several more colleagues read this than I show my symptomatic side to or they are reading this and thinking “who does she think she’s fooling.” I’ll enjoy the story I have written in my head and be blissfully unaware of my poor ability to hide things.

Even with it being 2022, mental health isn’t looked at the same as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, or any other chronic condition that people navigate everyday. If you were to tell someone that you are having a panic attack the reaction will be grossly different than if you say I’m having an asthma attack. Both can come on unprovoked, both are terrifying, and both leave you struggling for air. If you were to tell someone your depression is bad, the reaction is different then if you tell them your struggling to control your diabetes.

I am not making light of asthma or diabetes. I appreciate the serious natures of these diseases and the treatment modalities that are in place. Both diseases are in the top 20 leading causes of death world wide however, so is self inflicted injury. The later being the one that is more preventable.

Nearly one in five adults in the US experience a mental illness. Nearly one in twenty five adults in the US live with a serious mental illness. Misery loves company, just kidding, we don’t want company. Sarcasm aside, my opinion is that people don’t know what to say or what to ask when someone shares about their mental health struggles or showing signs of struggles. What is the right thing to say? Can I make it worse? Are they now this delicate figurine that will break if I don’t give them the right advice?

My unprofessional advice; listen and be present, allow them the space to simply be quiet, give them grace when they aren’t “them,” and depending on how much ya like this person, still love them through the rocky times. For as awkward as the situation may feel for you , I can promise you they feel even worse with some humiliation, guilt, anger and a dose of WTF added for funsies.

So as we ease into Mother’s Day weekend and I prep to blow out some 37 candles, I cherish this triple crown I wear and hope that these struggles are not in vain and that my perhaps foolish vulnerability has helped end the stigma for some.

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