Content warning: mental health, depression, self-harm, suicide

 

What feels like an eternity ago I was a student at an undergraduate institution. It was, honestly, the best time of my life. My experiences, although not always great, defined who I am today. It took whatever I was when I graduated high school and molded me with a strong liberal arts background. The foundation of my supervision style was developed from the experiences that I had appointing vice presidents as student government president. I probably peaked in college and everything else is a downward spiral, but that is probably a conversation for a paid professional. However, I have been remembering bits and pieces from my college experience lately that I wanted to discuss with you, mysterious person who clicked the link.

I have been through ample training for my multiple positions throughout life, but I can clearly remember one particular training with a theme. The theme was the FISH! Philosophy and, at the time, I loved it. I thought it made so much sense because I obviously needed to “Choose [my] Attitude” and pick something more constructive than cynical and suspicious. If I made that choice then things would be better, right? I could choose to see the light, and everything would be fine, right? It took far too long for me to be able to see that this is not the case. Sometimes a person can make a choice, but that choice does not matter. When it comes to your mental health a person does not always have a choice.

One cannot choose to stop feeling hopeless. One cannot choose to stop wondering if it will get better. One cannot choose the lethargy they feel every moment of every day. One cannot choose their symptoms away. One cannot choose to get better just because they choose to. Mental health is one of the most difficult subjects to talk for many reasons, but the one thing that we, as a society, fail to grasp is that mental health is health. Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes we feel good some days and some days we do not. We cannot make a choice to feel better when we have the flu. We cannot make the pain disappear when we twist an ankle.

However, we can make a choice that impacts others. We can choose to notice the signs of depression. We can choose to ask those we care about if they are okay. We can ask if someone is considering harming themselves or ending their life. We can ask how we can help. We can offer a ride to the hospital or the first therapist session. There is a lot that we can choose to do, but it is up to you to make the right choice.

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