May Day, May Day. Of course, I am not abandoning ship. What I am about to say is that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Now it is our time to be together, not apart; just as The Turtles sang Happy Together. Although, this concept is quite difficult, we must do this for both our mental health and our physical health.
In an army motto, it is said: ‘Be all that you can be’. This encompasses both togetherness and individuality. Many peer specialists like myself, attempt to get others to empower each person one at a time. Ultimately, this is helpful in obtaining the greater good for all people.
What is respect? Not only is it a song by Aretha Franklin, but one mantra by the peer movement. Respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something. Remember, respect is earned and is never given. But, you must give respect to receive respect. Professionals and peers must do this together as one. Wow, is that what Aretha Franklin meant all along with her song lyrics? Let us ponder. OK, stop pondering and read on. We as people must unite to achieve an everlasting existence – as performed by many artists: peace, love, and understanding for all.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but this is applicable each and every month, all the years ahead and beyond. Please, no exceptions. Yes, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but is more than that. Thirty-one days in May and many other interesting events happen yearly. Does this mean I am going to mention each one? Can we try to imagine this, would this be a great idea? Of course not, I have better things to do, say and write.
May I? May I? Well, let us proceed. In a few days ago on 15th May, I had my birthday. No applause or congratulations necessary. In fact, I spoke with no one and I received but one card. For me, it was another day to spend alone. Since this is a common occurrence, it makes me sad for a moment, and then I replace the thought to an event happier in my thought process.
During my years of therapy, I learned a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Simply put, it focuses on changing negative thoughts that can contribute to and worsen emotional difficulties. CBT is one of several ideas that helped me on my road to recovery.
Although my thoughts are clearer now, I am still on the road. Who of you out there, want to join me on this road? Anyone, anyone, I’m waiting. This excursion is long and painful. Each and every journey begins with one step. Anyone, I’m still waiting; not for long. OK, I want to move ahead now. Remember, CBT assisted me, does not mean it will do the same for you.
We all take our trip differently, but our lives intersect and continue together. Look out, it might and can bite us, no pain, no gain. Chin up, (but not too much) and focus on what is up ahead, (but not too far) and accomplish this by following this one step at a time.
Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot and repeat. Does this sound familiar? I know, I know! This is the walk used by The Armed Forces. This year on 25th May it is going to be Memorial Day which commemorates those who died in military service, to and for the US. However, due to COVID-19, this means more than ever so for this I salute all individuals who serve. Thank you.
It appears that Mental Health Awareness Month is not the only event in May. Most importantly, like many of us know, mental health is not only in May, but during every month of every year. So take care of oneself, physically and mentally, always. It is a positive way to look ahead in our journey to recovery in our lives.
Howard Diamond is a certified peer specialist in New York.
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