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You Are Not Alone...A Mental Health Awareness Month Story

In case you aren't aware May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And while I have advocated for many years about what I think is a severely undertreated and ignored epidemic in the U.S., I am taking this virtual soapbox of my own creation and will continue to virtually stand on top of it to shout as loud as I possibly can until change finally happens. I've written far too many social media posts and blogs on this topic due to the ever-rising number of people truly suffering from some form of mental illness and, beyond the fact that it is frightening to think that any human is capable of having a mental breakdown and go "postal" at any time, it is exhausting to have as much compassion as I do for anyone desperately needing help.

But here I am...doing what I can to bring awareness to this extremely important cause. As I always say, no one ever wants to get diagnosed as mentally ill any more than they want to find out they have cancer or any other life-threatening disease. The stigma, though, that our society attaches to mental illness makes it so hard for so many to want to get help if, in fact, it is even available to them. I am, as is all of #TeamIJS stigma-free as we work with far too many clients feeling helpless and alone.

I can point to multiple blogs I've written through the years including several since this website was launched just 3 months ago that have touched on the mental health crisis in our country and it is my hope that there will be a day when I no longer have to be "that person" know, the one that is not willing to ever think "thoughts and prayers" is enough to give grieving families and friends either because their loved ones become yet another mass shooting statistic or someone they know decides the only way to deal with their own mental illness is to take their own life.

In addition to the multiple blogs I've written on this matter, I sadly can point to so many of my clients that land somewhere on the mental health spectrum. And while I am fully aware that I am not a licensed mental health professional, I do have to know how to manage someone who can be triggered by the smallest of things. And when going through a home filled with a lifetime of "stuff", there are lots of potential triggers.

So I am extremely proud to be focusing this month more than ever on mental health awareness especially as we begin to get back to what will hopefully be a much more "normal" life when we reach herd immunity through the massive vaccination effort. This week's #whatsonyourmindwednesday guest blog featuring Mitten Lowe of Journey To Wellness. She will share her expertise on the importance of a healthy body and overall mental health. Remember, just because you don't suffer from a true mental illness, we all need to be extremely mindful of our mental state each and every day and that does include being mindful of what we consume.

For the record, I have known Mitten for almost 5 years. We met when I worked for an incredible summer camp, Camp Inc. Business Academy, which gave middle and high school students the chance to create their own startup or computer program. And whenever we could we would take a mental and physical break together and do a 7-minute work out or something else along those lines. After that particular summer, the overnight program was moved to a day camp program for the following summer and Mitten moved on to create her wellness coaching business. A recent blog I wrote mentioned how she finally got me to begin working with her and I will tell you that the transformation in the past two months was so much more than I could have ever expected. She is insightful and compassionate and, as someone recently said, a really "good witch". Whatever "brew" or "magic potions" she suggests, I'm all in!

In addition to Mitten's guest blog, there will be one from an acupuncturist that she referred me to, Noah Goldstein of Heartseed Health. He was mentioned as well in the blog I referenced above. I actually met Noah through Mitten over a year ago when she recommended me as a dog sitter as well as attend to their chickens' needs while Noah and his family went out of town for the winter holidays in 2019. Suffice it to say, I am great with dogs, but apparently not so much with chickens...

Luckily, Noah has forgiven me for that particular loss and works his needle magic on me without inflicting any pain as payback for the chicken's demise on my watch. Trust me, I was and still am traumatized by that tragedy especially when I hear them clucking away outside the treatment room which is located behind his home. I never thought a chicken's death would have me falling to my knees but, there I was, on a frigid December morning, in a chicken coop, a truly broken woman...I kid you not. I take my responsibilities very seriously whether helping humans or animals. Fortunately, I have developed pretty good coping mechanisms through the years and get myself back to center pretty easily. But, yeah, I don't think I will ever be a chicken sitter again.

The one other significant event I want to mention that will focus on mental health this month is a virtual panel discussion titled "Cluttered Home, Cluttered Mind: Exploring the Connection between Mental Health & Physical Space". This is a collaboration with Mental Health Partners to "answer the most common questions that get asked about the overlap between mental health and our physical spaces". It will take place on Wednesday, May 26th from 11:30-12:30 MT. The event has not been opened up yet to register but if you are interested feel free to fill out the IJS Contact Form and in the "How Did You Hear About Us" section at the bottom simply write "REGISTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH EVENT" and I will make sure to forward the event information ASAP.

Oh and I do want to give a little teaser about a Mother's Day promotion to be announced this Wednesday when the first It's Just Stuff newsletter will finally be published. There will be a few giveaways including 4 free hours of home organizing or move management services. If you would like to be added to the newsletter distribution list, again just go to the IJS Contact Form and in that same "How Did You Hear About Us" section mentioned above write "SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER".

While I know that these types of things are merely a drop in the mental health challenge bucket I have to believe that they will still help to be part of the solution and not create more of a problem. If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times, this past year has been one of the biggest mental health stability tests most of us have ever taken. Life before COVID certainly threw its curveballs at us all without notice but I have seen firsthand how difficult pandemic life has been for so many of my clients. And as we can start to come out from our pandemic shells I think there are still going to be some people that may opt to continue to remain detached from how the new normal begins to take shape.

Me? I am not kidding myself into a false sense of security that the vaccine is the be-all, end-all answer to the virus. There are still people getting it even after being vaccinated but I am hopelessly optimistic that I can make a substantial re-entry without the fear of dying. Last night was another stepping stone for me when I attended an outdoor concert at a fantastic brewery with a large and still properly socially distanced pavilion set up. A popular Grateful Dead cover band played for hours and even if you are not a DeadHead, moving and grooving to those classic jam tunes had me dreaming of seeing the real Grateful Dead yet again when they will hopefully get back to touring.

Add that vibe to celebrating the annual Run For The Roses at the Kentucky Derby via live simulcast made this former resident of Kentucky (3 years in the mid 1990s) very nostalgic, not to mention literally "jumping for joy" for all of the experiences throughout my life that have truly helped keep my mental health in check.

Please...I cannot stress too much...if you or anyone you know is suffering from any type of mental instability...GET HELP! There are some really great resources that really are trying to have an impact, ones that will soon be on the IJS Partners and Resources page. But until then, if you live in Colorado I highly recommend contacting Mental Health Partners. But for anywhere else is a great place to start your research for assistance.

Be well, be safe and please BE never know what someone is going through,


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