May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it got me thinking. We've made strides in being inclusive of folks who have physical differences or challenges. (We're not fully there yet, but improvements are being made.) Mental health, though, is different. Just saying "mental health" may make you feel uncomfortable. Why?
While most people who deal with mental illness are far more likely to become victims of violence than to create it, we all grew up with horrible Hollywood stereotypes painting people with mental health challenges as violent criminals, and since that's all most of us know about certain conditions, we begin to feel awkward, perhaps even fearful, around people with them.
Have you ever met someone with PTSD? Schizophrenia? Multiple personalities? Chances are, you have, and didn't even realize it. But if you DID realize it, how did you feel around them? Did you reach out and offer verbal support or did you quietly walk away, pretending you heard or saw nothing?
Many collectors deal with illnesses like depression, bipolar, anxiety, and more. To all of you, I see you and think you're incredible. I wish you didn't have to deal with these things, and I hope you will be able to heal or manage your condition so that you can enjoy all that life has to offer, in whatever way pleases you. Meanwhile, I'm a big advocate of "pony therapy," which is playing with model horses and animals. I really do feel our models can be healing or at least distracting when we need that.
I request that if you meet someone who is struggling with a mental illness, try not shying away. Try ignoring those Hollywood horror movie stereotypes and get to know this person as a person, not as an illness. There's plenty to talk about: Hobbies are a great option. "What do you like to do for fun when you can?" "Do you collect anything?" "Are you artistic?" These are great conversation starters if you're stuck for things to talk about. You may find you're talking with a knowledgeable, caring, kind individual with whom you have things in common. You may gain a friend, and they'll enjoy being seen as a whole person.
Hi, I'm Eleda, owner of Triple Mountain. I have PTSD, which most of you don't know, because it's not something that generally comes up in conversations. I'm a business owner, wife, stepmother, daughter, animal lover, model horse collector, and many more things. Person with PTSD is just one of them. Healing is challenging, but I've been working on it for a long time, so it has become a manageable part of my life. I have a great partner in Roy and the support of my family, which is very helpful. When I have a tough time, being surrounded by my model horse herd helps a lot - Whether rearranging, dusting, or just holding different models and enjoying their beauty, they are great therapy.
If you are currently struggling with a mental illness, I want you to know you don't need to be ashamed of it. Everyone struggles sometimes. There are great ways to get support both in person and online, so please advocate for yourself. You deserve to be well.
I welcome your comments here as a show of support for other collectors who may be struggling. (Because of the way the blog is designed, I'm unable to reply to comments in this space, but I read them all.)