Willie Spears

Willie Spears

Win At Home is a series of opinion articles written by author and motivational speaker Willie Spears. Learn more at www.williespears.com.

Next month is Mental Health Awareness month. This May, I am going to publish videos about the seriousness of this unfortunate disease.

I am passionate about Mental Health because it has affected my life in major ways.

One of the best ways I know to win at home is to educate ourselves on mental health dangers.

My mother passed away due to Mental Health issues. My cousin is serving a 125-year prison sentence because of Mental Health issues. Several of my former players have been hospitalized, arrested, misunderstood, and abandoned because no one knew what their problem was or how to deal with it.

What is Mental Illness or Mental Health Issues? What are the symptoms? How do we seek help?

My mother had a mental breakdown once, so I took her to our local Mental Health facility. She talked with a counselor for about thirty minutes. When they both walked out of the room, my mom walked past me, and the counselor asked could she talk to me privately.

I was encouraged to think she had a solution to our problem. Instead, my mom had convinced her that I was the one with the problem, and I was mad at her, and that was my reason for bringing her in. I could not believe it.

I believe Mental Illness is the number one problem in American, and we do not know how to treat it, handle it, or cure it.

At the age of eight, my cousin witnessed his grandmother get murdered by his grandfather. How do you think this impacted his life? He never received adequate counseling. He never had a true opportunity to grieve and deal with the magnitude of the issue.

Now my cousin is in prison for the rest of his life, barring a miracle.

As Athletic Director, I witness a high school athlete do it all during his senior year. He hit multiple home runs in baseball.

He could dunk a basketball and started on our basketball team. He was all-state as a football player leading our team as a kicker, punter, receiver, defensive back, and return specialist. He went to state in track and performed well on our weightlifting team. He experienced trouble with the law as a high school student but eventually went on to college.

As a student-athlete in college, he got in trouble for fighting during a game. He eventually ended up in a mental hospital with my mother. My mother’s father died of complications due to Mental Illness, and other family members have spent months in mental institutions. I was able to visit them both on the same day, and it was surreal. I knew they were both sick years before they were placed in the hospital.

Here are some signs:

1. Extreme mood swings

2. Feelings of sadness that last longer than two weeks

3. Withdrawing from others and avoiding people

4. Worry and anxiety is out of control

5. You may have delusions or hallucinations

6. You are sleeping too much or too little

7. You are having difficulty dealing with normal life situations

8. You started thinking of self-harm or suicide

9. You started abusing drugs or alcohol

10. You are having extreme anger outburst

The National Alliance on Mental Illness believes most of us have experienced one or more of these signs. If you need help, please call them at 1-800-950-6264.

I have had days where I was in a funk or had a rough patch. I have spent days in bed wondering if there was a way for me to disappear somehow or leave the world. What do you do when these thoughts come?

I do not have the answer, but I try to stop these thoughts before they start.

Many times, stress is a gateway to unhealthy thoughts, although the right amount of stress can be helpful. What helps me is exercising and writing.

I try to write and exercise every day. These two behaviors keep me mentally healthy, which helps me win at home.

An unhealthy mind is the definition of Mental Illness.

Three ways to Win At Home:

1. Stay active

2. Do not pretend to be well; seek help.

3. Know you are not alone.

I don’t know about you, but I want to Win At Home.

I am praying for you and your family.

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