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Patty Leon: Plenty of reasons to celebrate this month
Patty Leon new

WOW! We are in May already. Where has all the time gone? And there is a lot to celebrate in the month of May. 

It is National Hamburger Month. Locally, Wayback Burgers is offering special deals this whole month. Check out page 2 for the details, and get ready to enjoy an American classic. May is also National BBQ Month, so get out the grill and crank out a bunch of cheeseburgers — topped with bacon, of course!

It’s also National Strawberry Month and National Salsa Month. Makes sense to hit up your favorite Mexican place for some chips and salsa on another favorite holiday, Cinco de Mayo!

Since we live in Georgia, we all should be celebrating National Vidalia Onion Month, too. And if we are going to stick to food topics, May is also National Egg Month and Mediterranean Diet Month.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, it is National Bike Month, Gardening for Wildlife Month, Family Wellness Month and Global Health and Fitness Month. WHEW!

There are a ton of topics that are celebrated throughout the month of May. And within the month, there are several special days. This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and if you are lucky to still have your mother in your life, make sure you celebrate and honor her as best you can. Whether that’s a fancy meal out, a bouquet of flowers or a family get-together, make it all about her. If your mother is in Heaven, honor her memory with praise and prayers. My brother, who lives across the street, has several rose bushes, and they are in full bloom right now. My mom noticed and told me that all she wants Sunday is a freshpicked bouquet from those bushes. I relayed the message, for sure. I plan to make a fancy meal for mom and my sister-inlaw, who is also a mother of two and grandmother of five. May is also National Mental Health Awareness Month. When I heard that Naomi Judd, mother of Ashley and Wynonna Judd, died Saturday from mental illness, my heart sank. The Judds were some of my favorite country musicians back in the mid-1980s to early 1990s. On Sunday, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and watching Ashley and Wynonna cry and speak about their loss, about their mother, moved me to tears.

Naomi Judd had been open about her mental illness in the hopes that it may help others. But there is still a lot of stigma regarding mental illness, and it shouldn’t be that way. There has been an uptick in cases of depression thanks to COVID isolation, and an increase in anxiety for many reasons, some personal, some political, some due to financial reasons — you name it.

There are many people who appear 100% OK on the outside while hosting demons in their heads. They don’t want to seek help for fear of losing their jobs, their friends, their grip on reality.

On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 30% between 2000 and 2020, from 10.4 to 13.5 suicides per 100,000 people. In 2018, 14.2 people per 100,000 died by suicide, the highest rate recorded in more than 30 years.

But help is out there, and it is OK to ask for it. Asking for help shows strength and courage. You deserve any help you may need to make you feel whole, alive, vibrant and mentally at peace. Reach out to a professional. Find a therapist you can talk to. Confide in a friend so they can help you.

If you think you just can’t go on one more day, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone. You have meaning and value. You are loved!

Patty Leon is senior editor of the Coastal Courier

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