Neighborhood Expert: Recognizing mental health and breast cancer awareness in October

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

October is a ADHD Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Mental Illness Awareness Week also runs from Oct. 3 to 9 with World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10.

I think it’s important to recognize that the pandemic has caused undue stress, grief, anxiety and depression for many, many people. Adults, kids — it doesn’t matter. Everyone has been impacted in ways we probably won’t know for years to come.

We live in an area that has some of the most amazing doctors and medical care. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t forget to get your mammogram — it might just save your life.

Also, don’t rely strictly on the schools to screen your children for learning disabilities or mood disorders — pay attention to them. I’m not an expert, but I am Dr. Mom, so realize kids display symptoms of things like depression, bipolar, ADHD and other illnesses in different ways.

Here are some resources I’d like to share with you:

  • You can ask the school to evaluate your child. They’re required to do so within 60 days, and it’s free. You can also do a private neuropsych evaluation, but that can cost a few thousand dollars.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools has to screen your children for speech, voice, language, fine and gross motor skills, vision, and hearing. But PLEASE don’t just rely on them. I’ve heard so many stories from other parents of missed diagnoses for years. Advocate for your children, because if you don’t, nobody will.
  • If you’ve recently had a baby, please ask people if what you’re feeling is what they’re also feeling. It can be overwhelming, scary, moody and so much more. Talk to someone. Talk until you find the right someone.
  • For a mammogram, Fairfax Radiology Breast Center of Fairfax has weekend appointments available, so you have no excuse not to go.
  • You always have the option of finding a therapist. Fairfax County offers Behavioral Health Services for Adults, and some services are offered through insurance or on an ability to pay scale.

All of this to say, you don’t need to suffer alone. I have noticed the more I talk about REAL issues as a mom, the more other people are willing to share their stories as well. We’re all just looking for connection, and if someone says their life is perfect, you don’t want to be their friend anyway. Perfection doesn’t exist. We all carry something with us. You deserve help in carrying that load.

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