Keep the Conversation Going
When you are brave enough to speak up, you give power to everyone who hears you. Fear and shame shroud mental illnesses in a way they do few other things. Many people stay quiet about their struggle because they don’t want to seem needy, weak, ungrateful, crazy, or make themselves a burden to others. But when you speak up - when you tell the world that you’re hurting, and do so without cowering, without apologizing, without succumbing to guilt - you are giving others encouragement to do the same. Your voice can take the world one step closer to ending mental illness stigma. We are all broken, all imperfect to different degrees and severities. We are all scared, because no one gets through this life unscathed. But it’s hard not to isolate, to think ‘it’s just me’. We fear being rejected, shamed, and ignored far more than we fear the demons in our own minds. That is, until someone says ‘me too’, ‘I understand’, or ‘I’ve been there.’ When someone speaks up, admits to what they’re dealing with, everyone else who’s been feeling the same, but hasn’t said a word, suddenly feels so very, very much less alone. Our world needs to talk. We need to communicate. We need to accept feelings, understand pain, and be willing to communicate. Because only with communication can we solve the mental health crisis happening today. Talk to your children about how they’re feeling, about the pressure they’re under. Talk to your significant other about what you need for emotional and mental support, not just physical or financial support. Tell your family you love them, but also tell them what you need to feel whole and strong. Encouragement? Reassurance? Help? If you were on crutches you wouldn’t hesitate to ask someone to hold a door for you. Well, if your mind is in the equivalent state of being on crutches, why would you not ask someone to assist you? Well, I know, it’s because we’re taught not to. We’re taught to shut up, keep forcing ourselves on, not to cry. We’re told ‘don’t be weak’ and ‘suck it up’. It’s always go go go go go. I say enough. It’s time to stop. It’s time to stop and talk. Ask someone how their day is going and actually give a damn what the answer is. Look someone straight in the eyes and say ‘I’m hurting and could use some help’. Trust me that you will feel so strong for admitting that you’re feeling weak. I know change is difficult, I know putting aside pride and fear is incredibly hard, I know the world right now is still only just begun to understand mental illness, but we are getting there. We are making strides. But to continue to do so, we need to keep the conversation going. What I want is for the next generation to grow up without school shootings, without an aversion to therapy, without fear of feelings. I want them to grow up knowing what suicide is because they read about it in a textbook, not because they’ve lost someone to it. I want the world to understand that health is body AND mind. Life is busy and stressful and sometimes tormenting, but we’re in it together. And together we should fully be... Cracks, bruises, sorrows, and all.