May is Mental Health Awareness Month and agriculture is a stressful industry.
Sometimes there is a misconception that because prices are high at the markets, farmers don’t have any reason to be stressed out. Sure, higher prices make your operation a little more profitable, but this is just one piece of the elaborate puzzle of things that can try your patience.
I am not going to sit here and just read off a list of stressors that farmers face. You all have your own, and there is no need to revisit them at this point. However, there are other aspects to think about, including mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression that can affect you no matter what is happening.
The point is that there are going to be days when you are not okay. And that is okay. Just know that there are people who care about you, who are willing to help you, and there are multiple resources available.
We are still facing a stigma in rural America toward mental health. It is slowly getting better as the generations mature, but there is still that part of us that thinks we are weak or a coward if we cannot handle the day-to-day dilemmas.
It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is a sign of strength to know you cannot face it alone. You are not the only ones who deal with mental illness. There is a community of support available to you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to anyone to help. Family, friends, clergy, community members, and even doctors can help you get pointed in the right direction to get the help you need.
On a personal note: As a person who is affected by mental health issues, I can tell you that I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed. I know how it feels to not know where to turn. To feel like things may not get better. To wish for the ability to find joy in life. I have fought to pull myself out of bed on many occasions. There are things I will struggle with my entire life. Each day, and even each hour, can present new challenges. Take the time to get help. The fear of being labeled in some way is the disease and the condition telling you that you are weak and beyond help. That’s not you in there, that’s the mental health condition. Each day you got to fight that devil on your shoulder because the angels we have on our other shoulder are screaming their heads off and you need to listen to them.
As the great philosopher, Red Green says, “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”