"Mental health is a state of balance in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Positive mental health allows us to feel good about life, supporting our ability to participate in daily activities and accomplish our goals."
Talking about mental health may seem intimidating, but it may be one of the most important conversions you will ever have. We are talking real Brene Brown stuff here, it's time for us to get vulnerable with our friends, loved ones, and even our kids. Talking about mental health doesn't have to wait for a crisis to happen, talk about it openly now!! Perhaps talking about it can prevent a mental health crisis from starting at all. Being invited into another person's struggles, their real, messy lives, their pain and fears has a tremendous impact on other people to want to talk about their own struggles. Opening up about personal struggles in maintaining your mental health is not an easy thing to do, but WE can do hard things. We have to. Our country is in crisis. In short, my friends. this conversation starts with us. You. Me, and all of our friends.
Television, movies, and social media seem to sugarcoat the ordeals that people with mental health issues face every day of their lives. They usually tell the story that when someone starts a recovery journey, it’s going to be all good from there. WRONG!!! Just like everything in life, the journey isn't always a straight line. There are ups and downs, curves, and even periods with dark tunnels. Living with a mental health condition can a lifetime thing, they don't just go away at the end of the day, week, month or year. Unfortunately, these societal stigmas have made it difficult for those living with mental health concerns to talk about it and receive support.
We have it in our heads that there is no room for imperfect. That there is no room for struggle. We are shown "perfectionism" everywhere we turn. Social media is full of people who filter the lens of who they really are. Certainly not everyone can be happy, strong and put together ALL THE TIME. I'm here to tell you they aren't. Let's change this narrative. Why isn't social media full of people who want to keep it real? I don't need to see perfectly posed pictures, and filtered faces as though they aren't bone tired and struggling. I know that so many of those people that present as perfect are in fact hiding deep insecurities, worries and even shame. Let's normalize these feelings!! Give me someone who is willing to open up and say "I struggle with....", I will follow that person's journey. I will listen, and join in when I feel the same way. Open the conversation, invite it in, look for it in others who are open to talking.
It can be hard, REALLY hard to start that conversation. After all, you're admitting that you aren't "perfect", but don't overthink it. Beginning the conversation doesn’t mean you have to dive straight into talking about mental health struggles or have an intense heart to heart. Whether it's over a bite to eat or taking a walk, a simple “I'm not feeling myself” is a great place to begin. In return, If you recognize that a loved one is struggling, a simple "what's up" will go a long way to starting that conversation. It’s SO important to have healthy relationships to turn to in times of need. We need that ear to talk to, shoulder to lean on and a nonjudgmental perspective. It's equally as important to be that person for someone, as it is to have someone to be that for you. Having close relationships are vital to improving mental health. Friends increase our sense of belonging, improve our self-confidence and help reduce stress and anxiety.
We all have a lot of work to do in continuing to create a culture that values authenticity and vulnerability over unwavering strength and perfectionism. It’s OK to need help and to ask for it. In an ideal world, we would all be proactive in looking out for one another. As a community we must do more to help our loved ones by supporting them through their dark days. We must come together and find positive ways to involve ourselves in the conversation and ultimately get ourselves or our loved ones the much needed help they are seeking.