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Did you know 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness?

“Holy crap! Did that guy just fall?” Standing in line in front of me at the concession stand of a minor league baseball game, an older man collapsed in front of me.

It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school and I was enjoying a night watching America’s favorite pastime. I, of course, had to get a cherry (the best flavor) ICEE between innings. I had a night off from my job as a certified nurses assistant at a nursing home and my summer sports practices, so I was going to indulge!

But in front of me, a man keeled over. Internally, I was freaked out, but I knew I had to do something. And then, my CPR training just took over. Those of us in line by him, got to him before the onsite paramedics, and began compressions. Thank goodness another man by us also had training in CPR and he and I took turns. Once paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital, I went back to my seat. What they never tell you in CPR training is that if you ever have to actually use your training (and you’re not a healthcare professional), your adrenaline pumps so much that you can shake for awhile after. I shook so much I couldn’t even hold my dang ICEE! Driving home that day, as I thought about that man and my reaction, I vowed to myself that I would always renew my CPR certification whether I worked in healthcare or not. I could not even imagine how I would have felt if I had not been trained and that whole scenario played out. Would I have just stood there, helpless?

That was a physical crisis. Now what about a mental health crisis? 1 in 5 adults in the US will experience a mental illness. It doesn’t take much imagination to think of a group of 5 people in your life, and realize that that 1 of those people will be or could be living with a mental illness…or it could be you. What would you do if that person reached out to you for help? Would you know what to do? If you were trained as a Mental Health First Aider, you would recall the acronym ALGEE and recognize what you need to do to get that person help. No, I’m not talking about the slimy green crap floating on the lake! ALGEE not ALGAE. Much like CPR, ALGEE is an acronym for steps a layperson can take to help someone in a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid teaches these steps to anyone who wants to learn. I became an instructor for Youth and Adult MHFA in 2019.

Visit https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/ to learn about Mental Health First Aid or to sign up for a class.

*All stats found at NAMI.org, 2020

When anxious and anxiety have a baby named “anx-shitty”

In the late ’90’s comedian Jeff Foxworthy had a series of jokes in his stand-up routine that started “You might be a redneck if…” and he became quite famous for it (https://youtu.be/vwlny1hcUh0). Last week I mentioned to my friend about how anxious I get placing an order at the drive-thru window, and it occurred to me that perhaps this is not an anxiety inducing situation for most people! So during my run yesterday, I compiled a list in my head of situations that make me anxious, that maybe don’t for most people.

I laughed as I thought “You might be an anxious person if…” (and you have to say it in Jeff Foxworthy’s southern twang).

  1. You get anxious placing an order in fast food drive-thru’s. I get so nervous! I pray that the person doesn’t ask for my order right away so that I have time to look at the menu. If they ask right away, I panic and order something I’m familiar with. And if they have changed the order of the menu around–forget about it! I literally develop a stutter.
  2. You get anxious saying the word anxiety. When I was little I had an insatiable love for reading. In part because I was painfully shy, but also because I loved exploring new topics. Often my parents and I would sit and read to ourselves on Sunday afternoons in the living room, sometimes sharing out loud a passage from our books that we really loved or thought inspiring (yes, I know we’re nerds thankyouverymuch). Once, I was reading a passage and said out loud the word “anxiety”…only when I said it I said “anx-shitty”…like anxious and anxiety had a baby and it was “anx-shitty”. Hey, I was 10 years old! My parents laughed hysterically and corrected my mistake. But ever since, I will stop myself before I say the word out loud. Which, because I work in behavioral health, I say the word often. And usually it involves heart palpitations!
  3. You get anxious picking your pups up from daycare. For real. I have two dogs and they have been going to the same doggy daycare for SEVEN years and I still get nervous picking them up! In my mind I think “what if they don’t run to me?” “what if they get a bad report card?” “what if something happened to them?” I always have to consciously stop thinking those thoughts.
  4. You get anxious around salespeople. And it’s usually the salespeople that work on commission (e.g. car sales, mattress sales, etc.) I get sweaty walking into a store and having a sales person follow me around. Probably because I despise being pressured into buying something. It’s an immediate turn-off for me. I hate to admit this…sorry dad…I have paid full-price for items I fully know I should not have, JUST because I had to interact with a salesperson looking to negotiate. I am probably part of the niche that makes the auto industry so much dang money! Oh and let’s not forget about when we internationally and I have to buy items from local merchant booths. JUST TAKE MY MONEY. In my mind I always justify it, like “Ok Moriah, you are supporting local!” The first time I tried to buy something in Puerto Vallarta on the beach, I almost had a meltdown. And I don’t mean my makeup. Legitimately, had to go back to my room and do breathing exercises. And what’s even more crazy is that I am actually a very assertive, decisive person in my structured day-to-day life.
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

I can’t be the only one who struggles in “normal” situations. What situations do you struggle with?