One reason why mental health is not talked about is that society is busy trying to pretend it’s not a problem. Let me explain further…
Everyone wears a mask when it comes to mental health. This mask helps protect us from the harshness of the world and acts as a protective shield. To take this mask off is to admit or show vulnerability. Being vulnerable is so scary. There is often this thought that, “what if we remove this mask and are rejected for showing our true self?’ Will the world judge us or welcome us with open arms. The world can be a selfish and judgmental place. But the first step to change it starts by making it normal not to wear a mask.
One thing I have learned is that these masks can be very deceiving. Don’t judge a book by its cover – someone may appear to be happy on the outside, but falling apart on the inside.
Mental health does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender, race..
Throughout history, women have been made out to be the sensitive, emotionally driven sex. Mental health does not discriminate. There is this terrible stereotype that men have to always be strong, put together, and stern. But men don’t always have to put up a façade and think that to be a male means they must be emotionally cold.
Men can be sensitive, men can be warm, and men can struggle with mental health too.
Stop Pill Shaming..
Another terrible stigma that exists in the world of mental health, is that to be put on medication is a bad thing. Everyone is different and if anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication helps someone get through their day, then why condemn it?
If going on medication is the difference between life and death, why make people feel bad for this? Not everyone can cope with just meditation or exercise methods. Some need an extra push..
Learn to recognize when someone is suffering…
No one wants to have that constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness. To feel like their soul is lost and broken, or their life doesn’t matter. No matter how little, there is always that small bit of hope that they cling to.
Despite the many arguments surrounding the show Thirteen Reasons Why, the show broke through that invisible barrier and forced people to face this very real topic. It started a conversation…
There is one thing that 13 Reasons Why did well to address. It was that most people don’t know how to recognize or know when someone around them is suffering. Not everyone’s suffering is obvious!
When Thierry and I were in college working as Resident Assistants, we were required to complete a mini course on how to recognize someone having suicidal thoughts and how to approach the situation. I seriously wish that this was taught in schools because I very much feel it is something people should know and be aware of. I found myself having to use this training unexpectedly on one of my shifts. It was later revealed to me that having this interaction, saved a student from making a huge mistake.
Sometimes a person’s biggest enemy is their own thoughts. People who suffer from depression are often just waiting, hoping for someone to bring them back out of the shadows. Even if they don’t want to admit it. When a person is hurting bad enough, they get tunnel vision and the darkness becomes more and more prominent. No matter what people tell them, it goes in one ear and out the other. All they can hear are the voices inside their heads telling them lies in disguise…
If you see someone is suffering, pay attention, listen, observe..be there for them.
Disclaimer: The reason for this series is to provide mental health awareness and to start a conversation and is part of my contribution to the “Bell Talks” campaign.
I just want to address something that I said in my last post. When I was referring to “self-medication’ I was referring to trying to deal with mental health struggles without help of any form. It occurred to me that I may have used the wrong terminology for this and I apologize.
To go back and read part 2 of this series, click here.