May is Mental Health Awareness month and this month we hope this blog will encourage you to Be A Light...
For weeks I have been feverishly trying to find a lightbulb to replace one of three lights that went out in my bathroom. Perhaps my obsession with this bulb was more about fixing one of the few things I had control over at the time. Nonetheless, I tried every light bulb I could find, then called my JanJan for the expert advice only a Grandmother can give. Long story short, nothing matched the white light already beaming from the fixture. I started to think about how this burnt-out lightbulb is a lot like me.
Like many people around the world, I lost my job last April due to COVID-19. Imagine the quintessential main character in panic mode. Lightbulbs have always been a symbol of positivity for me. Last May, I painted a mural centrally located on Main Street in my hometown, Stuttgart, AR, during the lockdown. That's where I grew up, and that's also where I retreated when the world shut down and sent us all into a tailspin. In an attempt to get out of the house, we decided to paint. We also hoped to inspire. The final product was named: "In a world full of hate, Be A Light," (picture above).
Back in 2017, following a series of mental health struggles that snowballed, I began talking and writing about my journey. Before I knew it, I was a self-proclaimed “mental health advocate.” Sharing professional resources (ex. Rise), giving examples of practices that helped me (journaling, therapy, working out), and being brutally honest on social media, opened my eyes like never before. I quickly realized that I was not the only one experiencing darkness like anxiety and depression. I also never allowed myself to think my struggles were over just because I was speaking about them publicly.
This past year I was laid off, lost my beloved pet in a tragic accident, and suddenly said goodbye to a loved one due to COVID. Most recently I experienced trauma like never before. I am still processing and navigating each day thanks to therapy. I would be remiss in sharing my story thus far, without mentioning the recent difficulties life has thrown my way. Prioritizing one’s mental health is not a one-time quick fix. It is something most people must consciously work on each day. One in four people suffer with a mental illness. If you are reading this right now, chances are you are one of them. Here’s a reminder for you:
You are not weak. Fighting a war inside your head 24/7 requires real strength. Please never forget how strong you are.
Late last night while restocking my toiletries, I found a box of lightbulbs in the back of the shelf. It was hidden there all along and was just the spark I needed. Finding it this way, at this time, was no coincidence. My light went out. But when the lights go out, we must change them and glow bright once more. On May 19, 2021, I will be taking over @riseforarkansas on social media to share inspiration, day to day positive activities and more of my story. I hope you will check it out!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month; now is the time to replace your light bulb. And the best part is… you don’t have find your shine alone.