Mental health is an incredibly complex subject to grapple with on your own, and even more difficult topic to fully explain to someone else. I remember that the first time I started to understand how how mental health issues work, it was through a friend's use of metaphor.
She told me that if most people wake up everyday mentally neutral, at a 'zero', people suffering depression start their days at a negative number. And while they could both experience good and bad things throughout their day that could make their number go up or down, it would take a lot more work for the depressed person to reach high positive numbers. This 'mental math' was instrumental in my apprehension of mental illness.
According to a 2016 study by the National Institute of Mental Health, 44.7 million adults in the U.S. reportedly suffer from a mental illness. If you grow up in a household where mental health wasn't as fruitfully addressed as physical health, it can be extremely challenging to fathom and make sense of your own mental processes.
Language is powerful tool that allows us to use analogies to become better acquainted with our own minds. Below, people share the specific metaphor that helped them to understand their mental health issue better — here's what they had to say: