It Gets Better, or, Why You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Care About Mental Health

Sid, who is one of my dearest friends/long distance workout buddies (and who also has been a monitor for me over the last year), has written a post answering my call for people to write about mental illness.

She nails it.

I met JT personally when I signed up for the WWJTD workout team. This has resulted in one of my life’s most rewarding friendships, a friendship that is also a ticket to a ring-side seat to the circus that is anorexia.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t hurt to reach out, even if you are not sure you will know what to say, or if you think what you say might not matter.

I’ve more and more come to realize how the distinction between mental and physical health is not real. The brain is an organ, just like any other organ in the body. It has physical needs, such as sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. It falls vulnerable to stress, pathogens, and physiological malfunctions. As Jen McCreight said, “If we don’t mock people for being deficient in insulin, we shouldn’t mock them for being deficient in serotonin.” The health of the brain affects the health of the rest of the body just as surely as the liver or the heart does. Study after study after study have shown that depression and psychological stress increase rates of chronic illness and death. The times anxiety attacks grip JT, he looks physically ill.

I’ve also learned, from JT’s account and others, that there is a difference between the moods and personality quirks that everyone lives with and actual mental illness. It isn’t that uncommon to feel ugly, to make a social faux pax, to worry that people won’t like you, or to feel sad or worthless. What isn’t normal, though, is for these feelings not to go away, to obsess, to hallucinate, to be crushed by one’s brain to the point of not being able to function.

Head over to her blog and read the whole thing.  It is informative, touching, and honest.  Give it a read and throw her some kudos/support.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.