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On World Mental Health Day

Hayley Denbraver 👩‍💻🥑
Software engineer, developer advocate, technical content creator. Believes coding can and should be fun and that teams work best when they are inclusive.
・2 min read

Today October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. A former colleague of mine posted some thoughts that I found to be really helpful. In turn, I wanted to write a little bit about my experience.

I am tagging this as 'career'. Mental health issues have the ability to throw people off course and to make people feel alone. You are never alone.

Your mental health is part of your physical health

Several years ago I had a sudden increase in anxiety symptoms and started to have severe panic attacks, sometimes without any idea what the trigger was.

I sought help fairly quickly and it turned out that the problems had been triggered because my thyroid was extremely over-productive. If I had let things simmer, I could have easily ended up in the hospital fighting for my life against a thyroid storm.

For me, my mental health issues were strongly tied to other things that were going on in my body. This isn't the case for everyone, but I think this experience highlights something very important.

Your mental health is part of your physical health.

It is common to see mental health issues stigmatized in a way that physical health issues are not. Sometimes people don't take what is happening to them seriously because they see it as all in their head. So in case you were unsure, let me tell you:

Your mental health deserves the same respect as your physical health. Mental health issues do not make you a bad person, in the same way allergies do not make you a bad person.

Your physical health is part of your mental health

I want to be careful here. You can not yoga your way out of a mental health problem. I also don't want to shift the stigma that currently exists in mental health onto a person's physical health. Health care access is not universal, free time is not free, and food deserts exist. We have a long way to go as a society.

But I do want to share that my mental health has responded to changes in my physical health, both positively and negatively. Understanding this has helped me address physical issues faster (because my mental health may take a hit if I don't). I also know that taking hikes around my neighborhood helps me feel better not only physically, but mentally.

It boils down to this:

You deserve the resources to be proactive about your physical and mental health. Investing in your physical health reaps mental health gains. Even small steps should be celebrated.

Be kind to yourself, today and always.

"Nature montagnarde" by gelinh is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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