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It’s so strange to think about the fact that we have to ask why mental health is important. No one ever asks why physical health is important—this is a given. We all agree on it. We all know it. We all at least feel properly guilty and ashamed when we don’t take care of our bodies.
Yet when it comes to mental health, we tend to sweep it under the rug.
This is totally insane (ironically) given how common mental illness is in the United States—almost 20% of Americans suffer from some form of mental illness.
So why is mental health important? Why should we work just as hard on the mental health issue as we do on the physical health issue?
Here are a few reasons.
Mental Health Affects Our Ability to Work
One constant in almost everyone’s lives is work. There’s no getting away from it—someone in every family needs to work to live and support the family, and often more than one person has to work.
When our mental health suffers, work suffers, and I don’t know about you, but work isn’t something I can afford to have suffer.
If I don’t work, I don’t eat—that’s the long and short of it. Like many Americans, I don’t have a huge savings cushion to fall back on. If I lose the ability to work, I have to rely on family and become a burden on them—and I’m lucky I have family to fall back on.
One of the biggest reasons I might not be able to work is if something happens to my mental health.
Depression and addiction—both mental illnesses—have not only affected my work in terms of the quality of my work, but they have kept me from getting jobs in the first place and keeping jobs that I had.
I don’t bother putting anything on my resume from before 2013 because my work history was so horrible it might as well have been nonexistent.
Addiction caused me to lose jobs, either because I quit or because I got fired due to poor performance or for not showing up to work.
My mental health forced me to rely completely on my parents, even well into sobriety, because I got a criminal record as a result of my addiction. This kept me from entering the workforce until all my charges were resolved in 2013.
If I’d had my mental health issues worked out, I would have a decade more work experience than I currently have. Mental illness has absolutely set me back monetarily and in my career.
Mental Illness Affects Our Relationships
Relationships are a vital part of any human beings’ life. We are social creatures, and even when being social is hard on us, we still need some form of connection to be okay.
Life is hard. Life is really hard. Without relationships, it’s even harder.
Poor mental health will cause relationships to deteriorate.
When I was using, no one wanted to be around me. I was completely unpredictable. One minute I would be friendly and talkative, and the next I’d be cruel, or crazy, or violent, or totally withdrawn.
No one ever knew which Adam they were going to get. This meant that most people figured out quickly that being around me was a bad idea.
Without those relationships, my using increased, and my mental health deteriorated. I would lock myself in my room and watch movies all day long because I was so depressed I couldn’t even find the energy to play video games, let alone go outside.
When I was depressed and not using, no one wanted to be around me either. An ex broke up with me because I would sleep all day as a result of my depression—and I don’t blame her. I can’t imagine how terrible that must have been to date someone who was never present.
It also affected my relationship with my family. I regularly got into verbal fights with my parents and my brothers because I was so irritable all the time. When I was twacked out on uppers, I’d be talkative and happy, and then I’d suddenly be irritable and angry because I switched to opiates for a while.
That’s not fun to be around, and I lost many friends as a result of it and almost lost my relationships with my brothers.
If Your Mental Health Is Suffering, Get Help
One of the best things I ever did, both in my addiction and later in sobriety, was to get help for my depression and anxiety and anger and OCD.
I need medication to live and be free. When I don’t take my medication, my work suffers, my relationships suffer, and even my physical health suffers—I’m certainly not going to go exercise when I’m profoundly depressed.
Mental health is so important to having a good life.
What has your experience been with mental health? Let me know in the comments.