Today is World Mental Health Day. So let's have some real talk.
This world is rough. But it is not a reflection of YOU.
You will NEVER feel as confident as everyone else around you seems to be. And that's okay; the secret is that the people you idolize are also, very likely, scared inside. Just like you. Maybe more.
This world is hard. We are in a time full of strife, of need, of wanting to connect to old friends, make new friends, and be social. And yet the easiest virtual social platforms are inundated with "news" -- sidebars full of people dying, homes destroyed, war looming...pick your depressing, terrifying, poisonous thought and it, too, is everywhere.
You -- yes you -- are constantly being told that you are not good enough. You are not strong enough. You are not beautiful enough. You are not smart enough. You are not rich enough.
The human mind can only take so much. And then, when your mind cannot take it, you "had better not" start seeing a doctor -- because if there is something "wrong" with you, no one will hire you, and then it just proves the outside world right: you weren't good enough, blah blah blah self-fulfilling prophecy blah.
I'm putting myself out here to tell you: this horrible cycle is bullshit.
You see a doctor for a physical check-up, to make sure that your body is as healthy as it should be. You see your dentist for occasional maintenance, to make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as they should be.
So why is it such a stretch that a person -- a normal, everyday, "nothing wrong with me" person -- should see a mental specialist, to make sure one's MIND is as healthy as it should be?
We all have stress, and the more we live, the more stress we get. Good stress ("OMG I won the tickets!"), bad stress ("my best friend's hamster is dying"), and anything in between ("ARGHTRAFFIC").
Seeing a therapist -- and there are MANY KINDS of therapists -- is amazing for *anyone*. Your therapist is (or should be) a neutral party. That is, someone who can hear you out, understand your words, make sure you feel genuinely heard and understood, and all without the stress or pressure of influencing any other aspects of your life. That kind of freedom is awe-inspiring and life-saving.
The medical world is constantly changing. Things that were never understood while we were growing up are now finally starting to be understood! They are developing new medical specialties and processes to help everyone be able to live the lives they want and need. They didn't HAVE the knowledge or the wide-ranging medical definitions and diagnoses that they have today. People brave enough to seek help can discover that their issues probably spanned a LOT more time than they'd originally thought, but they just didn't have the science back then to treat or to understand it.
I wish I had understood all of this earlier. That's why I'm saying this now, here, for World Mental Health Day. Because I want you -- yes, YOU -- to help yourself and the ones around you to feel okay with yourselves. I want you to know things I didn't. I want you to feel brave enough to explore and face your feelings, and to ask questions.
And please do. Ask questions. You won't know unless you try to learn. You don't have to ask questions of me (though you're welcome to), or about anything in particular. You don't have to ask someone publicly or privately, through writing, through phone calls, or even through interpretive dance. But always ask.
Mental wellness is so important. Because we are all wearing masks when we interact with the world. And maybe, if more of us ripped those masks off of ourselves, we'd find that we have more in common than we thought.
Final thoughts for this post:
Only you understand all of the battles you are currently facing. Human nature is to compare, and so it's easy to hold someone else's woes up to yours. That is not fair -- to the other party or to you. Do not discount your own struggles by comparing them. Do not discount someone else's struggles by doing the same. You can never understand everything they are facing. They can never understand everything you are.
Medicine is not always the answer. Your physical and mental healthcare teams can help you find the right path for you.
Your therapist might not be a good fit for you, and if they are not, it is 100% OKAY to find one that is. I have a friend (no, really) who has multiple therapists for multiple issues that he faces. I myself have had difficulty connecting to a therapist before and so have moved to a different one as well, and I am happier for it. If you're seeing a doctor, you want that doctor to help you. Same for a mental wellness professional.
You are not alone.
You are not alone.
YOU are not alone.
And remember that you can post your feelings and thoughts and take HUGE steps for yourself -- you know, like outing your true feelings towards mental health or your human identities -- and there may not be any answer or acknowledgement of this step from the people around you. This doesn't mean that you are being ignored or slapped down. It is not "proof" that no one cares.
Read that again: It is not "proof" that no one cares.
It is just proof that there are other forces at work here: maybe someone is not ready to speak up in the same way you are. Maybe someone is unable to read your words or hear your voice when you speak up. Maybe someone is dealing with their own hurdles and is stuck in their own mirrors. Maybe a software algorithm is burying your admissions under the posts it wants to promote. None of these are a reflection on you. As horribly difficult as it is to do when you're stuck in the depths of anxiety or depression spirals, remember this.
You are not alone. You are never alone.
Happy World Mental Health Day.