I’m pretty down right now, y’all. It’s for a lot of different reasons and I have a very good support system, I take pills to help my depression, anxiety, and mood. I saw my therapist, whom I love, just today. But here I am. Going down, down, down. My depression is pretty run-of-the-mill. It’s expected. It’s manageable. But it’s always there. Always.
And so because I know that I give myself all the tools and still feel this way from time to time, I know some of you are the same boat. So, this is your regular reminder that talking about mental health is crucial. We have the power to release ourselves and our families from the stigma of asking for and receiving mental health help. But it takes work.
For starters, we have to talk about it, keeping in mind that it matters how you talk about it with your loved ones, your kids, your friends. You do not know who is struggling because not everyone is as open as you or I might be. You can’t imagine the conversations I’ve sat through forcing a smile while people say things to me that are wholly unhelpful or just clueless.
People have told me that I just need to get outside more. As if the sight of trees will help me cope with the PTSD I have from losing my child. I think what they mean to say is that I need to do some internalizing. To find a quiet place to commune with myself. But what they don’t know is, I do that. Quite well. And quite often.
People have told me that I need religion. Because Jesus can just take all my stress away, they say. As if my trauma-induced anxiety will just magically float away when I ask Jesus to take it. What people don’t know is that I did that for a long time. Quite well. Quite often.
People have told me that I have nothing to be sad about because look at my life! I don’t have a high-pressure job or an unhappy marriage. Apparently, I just need to focus on the good, maybe keep a journal, and I won’t be “so sad all the time.” This one is always the most shocking to me, assuming that people who have solid relationships or financial means should have nothing to be sad about.
This is a lifelong process. A lifelong problem. It’s manageable, but it will never go away, no matter how many times I sit under a tree and pray to Jesus. And if you’re honest with yourself, your problems don’t go away that easily either. Because that’s not how life works.
I’ve had a couple different people tell me recently, when talking about mental health, that they don’t take pills or see a therapist because they want to “face life head on.” Besides the obvious passive aggressiveness of a comment like that (read: I’m not weak like you, I’m strong!) these people are lying to themselves and it makes me sad.
Listen, I love y’all. You know I do. But that’s the oldest excuse in the book and one that has been fed to us generation after generation. And it’s just plain harmful.
The people doing the work, the people going to therapy, talking openly about mental health issues, using prescribed medication rather than self medicating with alcohol or addiction, we are the people facing life “head on.” We are the ones doing the uncomfortable work of reaching inside and patching up our heads and our hearts, hoping it will translate to others, the ones we love, the ones that hurt us, the ones who just don’t have the ability to see the other side.
So, it is with great importance that I ask you, if you aren’t in therapy, if you aren’t talking with a support group or a support person regularly about your traumas, about life in general, the ups and the downs, when will you decide to start?
The work is hard, it might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life, it certainly has been for me, but it’s worth it.
I want to see you succeed. I want to succeed. But it’s not gonna make any of us better unless we get real about it.
I hope you’ll stop being afraid. And I hope you will take the leap. Because at this point we ALL have trauma that needs urgent attention. And there is help out there for all of us.