In May, we celebrated National Mental Health Awareness Month: a month dedicated to normalizing talking about mental health and the importance of taking care of your mental wellbeing. All month long, there were special events, articles, and social media posts, providing resources to have better conversations around mental health.
For me, it’s a new day in the mental health conversation. As a society, we’ve come a long way in what seems like a relatively short period of time. In the entertainment space and the work space, there’s greater appreciation and empathy for mental health issues. This new attitude is refreshing and it’s a big difference compared to the past.
Once upon a time, we put people we knew were dealing with mental illness on the outside. We were embarrassed by what people would think, so we didn’t talk about their battles or deal with them.
We each have our own journey with our own struggles. Meditation is considered to be a practice because you have to keep working at it. Mental health, in many ways, requires us to work though things. There is never a point in life that we get to stop working on ourselves.
I personally went through a very difficult time starting in 2014 and seemed to last for many years, and at the time I felt like there weren’t many conversations around mental health. I didn’t even recognize I was having a mental health crisis and I didn’t know where to look or how to ask for help. Things got pretty bad for me. And of course this had a negative impact on my personal and professional relationships.
Having gone through this, searching for answers and explanations about why I was depressed, hopeless, angry, bitter, paralized by indecision I learned many things about myself and the human condition. It led me to a better mental space, and I’ve been fortunate to have learned some valuable life lessons that helped me.
One particular lesson I’ve learned is that no one really cares. It sounds harsh, but there’s a great meaning behind this. Often, “success” becomes the big goal and a part of that success, for some (and for me at that time), is how we are perceived professionally and what kind of reputation we have. At some point, we all will realize that everyone is focused on their own things, their own family, and their own journey that they are not paying THAT much attention to us and our things. And if they are paying attention, they won’t remember it two weeks from now anyway. There’s no master scorekeeper out there, watching the clock and keeping score.
I stopped worrying about the “likes,” the acknowledgements, what my peers were doing, or which projects went to my competitors. It was liberating to finally be living my life for myself and be focused on the present instead of stressing over what’s next or being anxious about that next big “win” for John. Joy was right in front of me the entire time. I had been looking in the wrong direction and watching the wrong things.
As each of us find ways to heal and reconcile with our mental health, continuing to make conversations around mental health and illness more accessible will improve the lives of countless people. You likely know someone, if not yourself, who is struggling with the challenges of life right now. Being available, providing space for a conversation, and being an active listener is often all we can do to help. There are many positives to counter the negative public opinion, and people in need should not have to suffer any longer.