As a behavioral health provider in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, one of the seven uniformed services, I have had the opportunity to provide behavioral health care to active duty uniformed service members, retirees, and civilians. I see clients diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury (TBI), bipolar disorder, substance dependence, and schizophrenia. I have been called to the hospital in the middle of the night because a client was in crisis and needed hospitalization. Due to the negative depictions of behavioral health in the media and elsewhere, those with severe mental health disorders and those having crises are often the images that come to mind when the topic of behavioral health is discussed.
However, there are many faces to mental health. I see individuals diagnosed with physical health conditions such as cancer, infertility disorders, or chronic pain. Others may have experienced the death of a loved one. These individuals come to my office because they are feeling depressed, anxious, or grieving. I see caregivers who are providing care to a loved one diagnosed with a mental or physical health disorder, and the caregivers are feeling overwhelmed and stressed themselves. There are also those having conflicts in their workplace, volunteer organizations, or personal relationships. These individuals are often times unable to control their emotions, overeating, drinking more alcoholic beverages, or possibly having difficulty sleeping. Do you identify with any of THOSE people?
In today’s society, many women and men are used to putting on the superwoman/superman persona and wearing the mask that life is perfect. They are afraid to admit that anything is wrong because they believe that any crack in the façade will make them appear weak; or they perceive that they will be judged in some negative way. Mental health treatment in the form of therapy or medication is often shunned or not even considered because of the stigma.
I want to let you know that there is no shame in taking care of yourself. Always remember that SELF-CARE does not mean SELFISH! There is no shame in taking off the super-Human cape. There is no shame in saying no when you are already overextended. There is no shame in seeking professional help when you need it. There is no shame in doing whatever you need to do to make sure that you are living a physically and mentally healthy life!