It’s normal to get your teeth cleaned twice a year. It’s normal to get your eyes checked occasionally. It’s normal to get a yearly physical. Why is it not NORMAL to get a mental health checkup or to see a therapist from time to time? Better yet, why is it not normal to talk about it?
On an announcement in church on Sunday, there was a depiction of people handing over their issues to someone and receiving “help” in return, well…all of the issues except “depression”. Depression wasn’t given help. It was handed back and put away. The announcement was trying to prove a point and it was made loud and clear. This is how society sees mental health. Houston, we have a problem.
We ask for help in so many areas of life but when it comes to our own mental health and emotional well being we are taught to “keep it to ourselves” and to “keep it moving”.
I’ve felt the pressure to just get over things before. I knew from an early age that it was not “cool” to be in therapy. I understood that admitting you’ve had anxiety or depression can be a deal breaker to a potential dating prospect. I get why people try to “act” like they are okay all the time. It’s woven into our existence, this profound need to “have it all together”.
Well, I’m sorry fam. You don’t have it all together. No one really does. If you do, please message me so I can give you a cookie, a high five and then call BS on you. Everyone has worries and triggers that make them sad or angry. It’s normal. But, it’s not normal enough. NO ONE talks about it. It’s taboo. My question is why? Why are we so afraid of our emotions and the emotions of others? When did physical wounds become more real and more life threatening than emotional ones?
I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you my experience with depression and anxiety. I grew up in a household with parents who battled depression and addiction. Bipolar also runs in my family. I am thankful I didn’t inherit that BUT I did inherit the tendency to get down on myself from time to time. I’ve been in a dark place a couple of times in my life. Once in college when my dad was in and out of rehab for alcoholism and once when my dad died. I remember feeling sad, angry and out of control emotionally. Even though I was put on medicine for anxiety and it was working, I decided to play doctor to myself and stopped taking it. Silly me, that made it worse and I spiraled further.
In those times, I did one thing that a lot of people don’t do though. I was honest about where I was and asked for help. I started seeing a therapist, cried a lot, started taking time for myself, questioned why I was in therapy, thought I didn’t need it, realized I did, cried some more and eventually bounced back. It took a LONG TIME.
The problem is, some people ask for help and don’t bounce back. Instead they slip deeper into that dark hole and learn to cover it up so everyone around them thinks they are okay or that they are doing better. I can’t even begin to talk like I understand how that feels.
In the last week, my small town and a very sweet family in my small town has been rattled and shaken to the core by an unspeakable tragedy. My heart is broken for my old friend from high school and for everyone that loved him. If you are the praying kind, please keep this grieving family in your prayers.
Also, I dare you to break down your preconceived notions of mental health and how important it is to be open about it. If you are depressed, seek help. If you know someone who is, reach out. If you think therapy is stupid and that mental health is a joke, open your eyes. We all need to speak a little kinder, love a little deeper and listen a WHOLE lot more to what people are saying and aren’t saying to us. We also need to be kinder to ourselves and stop trying to act like we have it all together because the truth is, we don’t.