From the darkness, help and new beginnings

Audreyell“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and here should be no distinction.”

–Michelle Obama

No one told me I needed help. I think I figured it out in college when I kept pushing away the only friend I had. My high school and early college days were quite dark. I didn’t understand it. Actually, no one understood it, not even my parents. And no one spoke of it. I tried to chalk it up to teenage years, but that wasn’t it. I was in a dark place. And I made sure I stayed there alone.

It wasn’t until I took advantage of Sacramento State University’s free counseling benefits for students that I began to understand what was happening with me. It was an assault from my childhood that I never really addressed. I avoided it as long as I could. When it started affecting everything I did, that’s when I got help.

We all go through a variety of life experiences: some negative, some positive. The negative usually affect us profoundly. Such impacts often shape our way of thinking, of receiving love, of belonging to a community, and a host of other connections.

But when these negative experiences go unresolved, unattended, or unacknowledged, they are equivalent to an open wound. And what do we do with an open wound? How does it stay clean from infection without attention, medication or treatment? Does it ever really heal? Or does it create additional ailments?

As Patrice Tevis, founder of Coffee & Conversation, a non-profit mental health treatment provider, puts it, “The first step is to acknowledge that a condition exits, then seek proper treatment. There are many community resources. You can also start with your medical doctor.”

I know Tevis from church. But the issue is a mission relevant to all of us. I am participating in an upcoming mental health drama called “Anger Management” to get the word out: mental health is important and should not be ignored.

The moment I acknowledged my hurt, my lack of mental health, and spoke to someone who could help was the day my journey got a little brighter. I am happy to report that one friend stuck around and my friendships and relationships have flourished because I no longer feel like I have to live in a dark world.

My hurt is not my shame. I do not live in hiding anymore.

The goal of the drama “Anger Management” is awareness. As Tevis puts it, “Mental health looks like me and mental health looks like you.”

“Anger Management” will be performed May 7 from 5:30 p.m. to  7:30 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy High School Theater. Tickets are available through Eventbrite. All proceeds will benefit Sacramento’s underserved communities.

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