Here is the thing about mental health: There is this imaginary line that everyone is afraid to cross when discussing mental health that causes society to fear the topic. We are genuinely afraid to get vulnerable and honest when it comes to mental health. Think about it for a second. When someone asks you how you are doing, isn’t your initial response “I’m fine, how are you?”. We have been programmed to wear this mask that hides the ugly reality of how we are really doing.
Let’s be honest for a moment, life can be really hard. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes; in fact, it’s healthy. It wouldn’t be normal for someone to be okay at all times. So why is it so difficult to talk about the not so beautiful side of mental health? Everyone seems to want to talk about meditation and yoga and breathing techniques, but no one dares to mutter the words depression or anxiety. It’s time to shift the conversation of mental health to a more transparent and honest approach.
Let’s talk for a moment about why mental health is important in the first place. Mental health influences every aspect of your life including your mood, job, relationships, self-esteem, actions, reactions, and just about anything else you can think of. So when we, as a society, choose to ignore the dark side of mental health, such as mental illnesses, we are putting a wedge between ourselves and our own mental state. This wedge should not exist because the more aware you are of your mental health, the better you know yourself. The more you know about yourself, the better equipped you are to form solid relationships with others, which is what this life is all about, right? Every person on the planet should be aware of the state of their mental health because of the vast influence it can have on just about any aspect of your life.
How do we shift the conversation of mental health exactly? Good question. It is going to take years for the stigma on mental health to dissolve completely but each and every one of us can begin taking the steps changing how our society thinks about mental health. The first step in this transition is being more honest with yourself and how you are feeling. How do you expect to be honest to someone else about how you are doing when you can’t even be 100 percent honest with yourself? It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. That is just a part of life.
Once we are able to be more honest with ourselves we can then move onto being more transparent with others regarding our mental state. For example, the next time a close friend or family member asks how you are doing, think about it for a moment. Take a second to assess and validate how you are doing, and tell that person the truth. Believe it or not, your words might help them with their own struggles. The fact of the matter is, everyone struggles. So why can’t we be more open and honest about how those struggles affects our mental health. By doing so, we are slowly beginning to dissolve the ever-present stigma surrounding mental health.
Mental health is an important part of each and every one of our lives, so you would think the discussion of this topic would be vast and go into great depth. In today’s society,however, it is only acceptable to present the more glamorous side of mental health. Today, try to challenge this limited discussion of mental health by being more open and honest to yourself and others about how you are doing in this roller coaster we call life.
Jamie has been writing ever since... well ever since she could physically write. She loved the control of it. The power to create anything and everything and the power to take it all away. She loved how it made her feel. She still does. She has a slightly unhealthy infatuation with Frida Kahlo (But she is not a bandwagon). She doesn't have her hair the same color for very long, only partially due to the fact that she fears commitment. She lives by the words of Ernest Hemingway: "Destroyed but not Defeated" from one of her favorite books, The Old Man and the Sea. She is passionate about dissolving the stigma surrounding mental health issues and hopes to be an advocate for those suffering from a mental illness.