This summer iconic rockers Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington both committed suicide mere months apart. Several other stars, including Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez notably spoke openly about their struggles with mental illnesses.
In a compelling interview with The Today Show, Lady Gaga revealed that she suffered from PTSD every day. She went on to say that the only reason she’s alive today is because of the kindness shown to her from her doctors, her family, and importantly, her friends.
“It’s really important to remind kids who are suffering from a traumatic experience or from abandonment, to remind them that they’re not alone, and that they’re loved,” she continued. “We are in this together.”
And it’s true; we are in this together. While you might not personally suffer from depression or anxiety, you almost certainly know someone who does. About 1 in 5 US adults suffer from some form of mental illness according to the World Health Organization. In fact, there are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, which means most of us may even struggle in silence and go undiagnosed. And then, of course, there’s the stigma that still exists.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Prince William, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton have started a foundation called Heads Together, targeted at ending stigma and changing the conversation on mental health. This shift is vital.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, “Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support and living well.”
The good news: support does exist. And we can help provide it.
If you suspect that your friend is suffering from a mental illness, look out for the following signs:
- Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
- Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
- Social withdrawal
- Strong feelings of anger
- Strange thoughts (delusions)
- Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
- Suicidal thoughts
- Numerous unexplained physical ailments
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but if your vina is displaying any of them, it’s definitely a sign that your bestie is not ok.
There is a big gaping hole in society when it comes to mental health. Sufferers are often left to suffer on their own because people don’t understand them. If it’s hard for you to deal with your friend’s emotions, imagine how hard it must be for her not knowing how she feels or how to express those feelings on a daily basis.
Let’s not shoo it off as “that B is cray-cray”. Rather listen to the silent signals and signs. Pay attention. You might just have your friend’s life in your hands.