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  • Writer's picturealaurafilbin

1 May 2020: Camp NaNo is Over! Onward to Mental Health Awareness Month

Time to celebrate the end of a month-long challenge that I absolutely crushed. I wrote just over 60,000 words during the month of April, completed a short story, and began the rewrite of a formerly abandoned manuscript (more to come on that in a different post).

Now that April is over...

Sorry not sorry, I couldn't resist. I went all of April with no "it's gonna be May" memes and I needed a little bit of Justin Timberlake in my life.

In any case, May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Time to recognize that mental illness is nothing shameful, seeking help for mental illness or distress is a very brave thing to do, and taking care of your mental health is for everyone, not just those with mental illness. Especially in a time like right now, our collective mental health is under strain, and we need to take care of ourselves more than ever.

We need to recognize that the supports for mental health are lacking in the United States (and likely in other areas as well, but I'm not informed on those areas and therefore should not make claims that I cannot sufficiently support). Our healthcare system is rooted in capitalism and prioritizes profit over patients. Drug companies drive up prices of our much-needed medications. Many people cannot seek care because they have no insurance and cannot afford the price of seeking help, for mental health or otherwise.

It feels like the world is against us sometimes, but if we continue to fight the stigmas against mental health and to fight for universal healthcare, to end price gouging, to prioritize the people over money, there is a hope for a better world.

We need to support each other and educate one another.

In the spirit of Mental Health Month, I have depression, slight anxiety, and dermatillomania (a compulsive skin-picking disorder). I'm currently taking Wellbutrin to treat my depression and I have tried online therapy, and though it didn't work for me personally, BetterHelp is slightly more affordable than in-person sessions and they have excellent therapists to match patients with.

I have written for The Mighty, talking about my experiences with mental illness (and migraines), and something I have learned is that community makes all the difference. When people come together out of love and compassion and shared experience, it makes dealing with our difficulties a little easier.

Mental health is finicky sometimes, and taking care of yourself means indulging in self-care. Now, sometimes self-care means the stereotypical stuff—pedicures, baths, face masks—and sometimes it means going for a run, creating art, reading a book, baking, taking a nap, taking medications, eating healthier, video-calling friends and family, spending time with a pet. Really, it's whatever you need to do in order to feel mentally okay. Self-care for you may look different than self-care for someone else, and that's okay.

The inherent stress of everything going on may make self-care difficult, but if you can do something to practice some self-care, anything, then do it. We are going through collective trauma with COVID-19, and in order to come out on the other side, we need to take care of ourselves, both mentally and physically.

To anyone deemed an essential worker in this time: thank you for everything you are doing and I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you're on the front lines of this crisis, I'm sorry that you are likely being mistreated by your workplace and are likely underpaid for the work you do, and I'm sorry you cannot stay at home like most of us. You deserve better and I hope you get through this safely and can take care of yourself to the best of your ability.

Let's take care of ourselves and each other, not just through May, but every day. Show compassion and indulge in self-care. We deserve it.

Here are some resources for anyone who may need them:

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