On Semi-Together, we make a point of talking openly about the internal roadblocks that get in the way of living wholeheartedly. The inner critic who says you’re not good enough (or worse, a failure and a fraud). The worry and anxiety, the stress and frustration, the depression and despair.
Being honest and vulnerable about the challenges that so many of us face normalizes them and brings them into the light so we can deal with them. Keeping them bottled up inside and in the shadows creates only shame, suffering, and poor health that can lower our quality of life and even be life-threatening.
Case in point: Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a dear friend of ours posted on Facebook that until just two months ago, she was depressed to the point of planning to take her own life.
“I imagine most people are surprised to learn that I was suicidal,” she wrote. “I looked fine, and I always put on a happy face. Knowing that I had to pretend, had to appear a certain way, was all part of it.”
Both Gill and I were shocked and heartbroken that this brilliant, beautiful friend of ours who has done so much good in the world felt so anguished that she would want to take herself out of it.
Friends, let’s check in on each other and talk about what’s going on with us – what’s really going on. Talk to your sibling, or your best friend, or your partner. Post on social media or blog about it with an open heart, and it’s very likely that people will respond with love and empathy rather than judgment – because all of us have struggles. ALL of us, and we don’t need to be ashamed of them. As we’ve realized collectively as a culture, the words “Me too” are incredibly powerful.
It’s heartening that it’s becoming more common to talk openly about mental health issues. On most of my favorite podcasts, someone has matter-of-factly mentioned going to therapy and how much it helped them be healthier and happier. Just like we need to take care of our bodies by eating well and exercising, we also need to care for our minds, the power center for our bodies and the lens through which we experience everything in life.
I manage my own anxiety, which can dip into depression when unchecked, with therapy and medication. It’s bananas to me that people aren’t shamed for taking meds to manage chronic physical conditions, but there’s still a stigma around taking medication for life-threatening mental health conditions like depression. And if you’ve thought about going to therapy, I would highly, highly recommend it. If cost has been a barrier, look for someone who takes your insurance, and sessions may be covered or require only a copay. If scheduling is a challenge, there are a growing number of online therapy providers as well.
The Skimm Guide to Mental Health Awareness is a good roundup of how very common mental health issues are, and it shares some concrete tips on how to undo the stigma. There are tons of places online where you can find kindred spirits who share about mental health with humor and humility, like Gemma Correll’s and Glennon Doyle’s social media.
We try to keep a sense of humor about mental roadblocks ourselves, taking an attitude of “There I go again!” with a playful eye roll when we observe our same old patterns. It's okay to be vulnerable, to not have it all together. It makes you part of the human family.
Whatever you’re going through, there is someone out there who will empathize and help you through it. Promise. ❤️️