By Aké Satia

In acknowledgment of Mental Health Awareness month, let us take a moment to reflect on a state that we all experience – adversity, also known as hardship, disaster, and trouble.

During our lives, we all face adversity. And during these times of struggle, it can seem like our lives have taken a downturn and will never return to a better state. And, moments when we are brokenhearted, our thoughts enveloped in despair, and our minds submerged in a state of confusion can lead to incapacitation. Indeed, we all experience such moments. And sometimes, they might be spurred by a disappointment in a relationship, devastation in the workplace, or the loss of a loved one. When periods of strife consume us, we wrestle with the ultimate question: Through life’s challenges and obstacles, is it possible to find hope and triumph?

Fortunately, we have many examples of people who have made a powerful impact despite their mental health struggles. Mark Twain is known as a brilliant literary mind. And he is the author of beloved American classics like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. And he also struggled with bipolar disorder and other mental disorders. Another noteworthy example is the well-known actress Kristen Bell who delighted audiences when she voiced the fearless optimist Anna in the Disney musical, Frozen. Kristen Bell is also known for being outspoken about her struggles with anxiety and depression. Both Twain and Bell’s stories and that of many others serve as a beacon of hope. – A reminder that the obstacles we face are a hurdle but do not have to be a dead-end.

And as we endeavor to strengthen our mental state, it is beneficial to destigmatize the power that we ascribe to the term: mental health. Because when one feels “alone” or “less than,” they are less inclined to seek help. But, when we acknowledge the reality that we all face struggles, we can indeed help one another. As the poet John Donne said, no man (or woman) is an island. We need each other. And we need to surround ourselves with people who positively influence our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. 

For more insights on the power of the mind, read an excerpt from Adversity Brings Balance by Aké Satia.