If you weren't aware, last Monday, October 10th was World Mental Health Day. Mental health is so important and is just as important as physical health. If your body is physically happy, then shouldn't you spend your life being mentally happy as well? I figured that this would be a perfect way to tie together an important day, World Mental Health Day, and the Peter Pan diaries. Unfortunately, mental illnesses often arise around the young adult years, when we're finally realizing that things aren't as easy as we once thought they were. Here's a brief summary of what the Peter Pan diaries are if you haven't been keeping up with the mini-series:

The Peter Pan diaries is a mini-series covering the various struggles, ups and downs, and giving guidance on the teen years. The Peter Pan series is for the people out there that are growing up, mostly aimed at the young adult years, but how they might not necessarily be ready to grow up yet, almost like Peter Pan. They're meant to help make the transition a little bit easier and also allow me to give my personal experiences and my perspectives on some struggles and controversial topics regarding teen life and being a young adult. 

So let's start simple. What is mental health? Mental health is essentially deals with your emotions and how you feel. This includes your mood, thinking, behavior, basically how you think, feel, and act. Physical health deals with your physical body, while your mental health deals with your mind. Often, mental health is not something that can be controlled. There are some cases in which it can be affected biologically and some cases in which your mental health can be affected due to your experiences and surroundings.

What is probably the biggest issue today is the mental health illnesses that all kinds of people struggle with, at all ages. I think that the biggest issue with mental health is that people dismiss it. It doesn't seem nearly as life threatening as a chronic heart condition or breast cancer, but in some ways, it can be just as dangerous. It tends to be like you're carrying a heavy weight, but as you go through life, small things join onto that weight, more and more, until it's impossible to stop it from falling out of your hands, out of your control.

Did you know that 50% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental condition sometime in their life? Half of these people will develop these conditions by the age of 14. 

This means that 25% of Americans will have met the criteria for a mental condition just by the age of 14. Going through any mental health condition is scary. No one is ever ready for it, but going through it at fourteen years old, even before that in many cases, that's terrifying. Mental health is around all of our lives, whether we want it to affect us or not. Chances are, someone you know and maybe even love has suffered or suffers with a mental illness. Either that, or they likely have poor mental health. As aforementioned, mental health seems like it's not important, but that's not true at all. It shapes so much more lives than we would like to think.

So why do we ignore it? As much as we would like to, we can't pretend that these mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, OCD, anorexia, bulimia, and other mental illnesses don't exist. Because they do. They're serious issues that won't go away unless we take action against them. These mental illnesses can be treated and suicide can be prevented. All we have to do is take action against them. This means getting awareness out so that people can learn about them, note early warning signs, get treatment, get help, change their attitudes, prevent suicides, and learn how to maintain positive mental health. As the infographic mentions, 20% of young people suffer with a mental illness, but only 30% of those people get diagnosed and receive proper care. What about the other 70%? Do they just go on living, not loving their life, or do they turn to suicide? We need to make these statistics change. Maybe just telling someone about the early warning signs of depression or anxiety or any mental illness can save a life. Sometimes people don't seem to be having issues with their mental health, maybe someone that you think looks perfectly happy is actually broken inside. The thing is that we don't know what is going on in others' lives. We can only do our best to raise awareness for this issue and look to create more accessible pathways to help those that are going through this all.

The worst thing that you can do if you think that you may have a mental health condition is to just let it sit there. I think that it's easy for someone like me, who doesn't have a mental health condition (to my knowledge) to say that to other people, because I don't know what it's like to live with one. And although I have never been diagnosed, that doesn't necessarily mean that I haven't had my fair share of ups and downs as well.
There was a time in my life a few years ago where things seemed really bad. I was worried that I may have had depression and things just didn't seem to be looking bright for me. I was unhappy all the time with my friends, my accomplishments, my choices, and I just didn't like the way that my life was going. During that time, I know that what I should have done was talk to someone, get people to help me be happier, be more positive with my life, but I didn't. I will never know if I truly did have depression during that time in my life and maybe I did, but I never had enough courage to speak up about it. I stayed quiet, I put on a smile and told everyone that I was okay, even though I was absolutely not okay. And although I never spoke up about it, there was one thing that I did right. I didn't let my unhappiness just sit there. I actively did my best to try and not let this unhappiness dictate my life. On days that things didn't seem to be going right, where maybe I wasn't giving my all, I started to stop giving myself a free pass. I think that when things seem grim, I sometimes tell myself that it's okay that I'm not doing so well, because I'm so unhappy. I used it as an excuse for not succeeding. But it wasn't one. Poor mental health should never be used as an excuse for not changing your life for the better. At the end of the day, the only one holding you back is yourself.

In my opinion, if things aren't looking too bright, whether or not you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, you need to get up and do something to change that. It will do you no good to sit there, unhappy. During that low point in my life, I started to focus on myself. I realized that it was time that I stop relying on other people for my happiness and I began to work on myself. I began to learn to love spending time alone with myself. I started finding new friends that made me happy. I learned to be independent, so that I could still be happy, even if I didn't have a security bubble of friends surrounding me. During this time, my blog came around. I began to take joy in expressing myself, since I was always quiet about my true feelings. It was then that I started to build for myself the life that I wanted. Looking back on it all, that low point was in a way a blessing. I managed to turn my life around and focus on being happy and only doing things that make my life better, not the opposite. Today I am happy. Obviously, I continue to have ups and downs, but I'm happy for the most part. That dark time made me into a more independent person and it's one of the reasons that I'm such a strong advocate for self-love, because learning to love myself was one of the best things that I've done. Maybe I did have depression during that time, but the important thing is that I'm not sad anymore. The storm will pass and you never know whether or not there will be a rainbow at the end of it. 

I've pulled some excerpts from Rupi Kaur's book, milk and honey, that perfectly captures the essence of it all, dealing with the challenges of poor mental health. Pain is always hard. But she captures just the right motivation to remind you that the storm will pass. Although today things seem like they're too much, like the pain will never go away, but eventually, it'll fade and the rainbow, the happiness will outweigh it all.

Even if you don't think that you have a mental illness, that doesn't make your mental health any less important. Maintaining positive mental health is an incredible thing to do. This means that you take time to connect with others, get a great amount of sleep (one hour extra can literally change your life and your attitude), try to stay positive, work on your self-care, doing things that will help to keep up your mental health. Sometimes we all just take a moment out of our busy lives and think about our mental health. Are you sad more than you are happy? Do you wake up in the morning, loving your life or do you dread leaving your dreams and heading into reality? How would you describe your emotions right now? Take a moment, a moment for mental health, to evaluate yourself. What are your emotions and if you don't like the way you feel, how can you change that? I challenge you to take a moment for mental health every week and think about what you can do to gain or maintain positive mental health. Because sometimes that's all it takes, one moment, to make a positive difference in your life and sometimes even the lives of others. 

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