Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Uncategorized

Let’s talk MORE about mental health…

In honor of this past Saturday being World Mental Health Day, I wanted to send a big shout out to anyone and everyone who may need to hear this, it is ok not to be ok. And not only is ok not to be ok, it is also more than ok to admit it and talk about it! Mental health is such a strangely absent topic of conversation when we speak about getting healthy and taking care of ourselves even though it is just as important to be healthy on the inside as it is to be healthy on the outside. So, let’s talk about it right now. Let’s make it more ok not to be ok all the time. We live in this culture where so often all you see is a filtered version of the happiest-looking, most social, most out-going, most successful people around you which unfortunately I think is contributing to more and more people covering up how they may truly be feeling on the inside. 

I know I am guilty of this myself to some extent. While I do try to talk about my own struggles with mental health occasionally, I probably don’t do it enough mostly because I very much want this space to be as positive, motivational, and encouraging as I can make it. And while I have gotten my own mental health substantially more under control since I started taking better care of my physical self, I still struggle. I still have anxiety. I still have days I don’t feel as happy and motivated as others. So, part of why I am here today is to make a promise to all of you right here and right now, I will talk start to talk about my struggles just as much as I talk about my triumphs.

Another reason I am here talking about this today stems from a really interesting conversation I had just the other day. I happened to have the TV on while I was cooking dinner and a commercial came on for a drug to treat schizophrenia. A friend of mine who was over. heard the commercial and was astonished and maybe even a little disturbed (he is slightly older than me) that they had put that ad on TV because as he put it, “you never would have seen that or talked about that openly back in the day”. I found myself getting just the tiniest bit heated, not at him, but at the fact that there was even a time when talking about having a mental health issue or disease was frowned upon to that degree. I think for males in particular but even females as well, mental health issues have long been something we have been encouraged just to sweep under the rug and deal with ourselves.

So, in the spirit of being open and honest, I myself, have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for years now. I have talked about this on this blog before so I won’t go into a ton of details but I wanted to emphasize that for a long time having these panic attacks and living with higher than normal levels of anxiety made me feel inadequate. I was ashamed that I wasn’t able to control my mind better so I could be more “normal” which led me to suffer by myself and not seek out the help that I honestly really needed. I finally got to the point though that I started opening up to a few people in my life because I just couldn’t handle it on my own anymore and while it is very hard for someone who doesn’t suffer with the same thing that you do to understand exactly what you may be going through, I was lucky enough to have people who didn’t for one-second judge me.  Instead, they just listened and were there when I needed them.

Having been on the receiving end of the kind of support and compassion that finally led me to get a handle on my own issues, I wanted to share a few do’s and don’ts today you might want to be mindful of if someone in your own life seems to be having a hard time or is brave enough to come to you and share what is going on with them:

DO:

Speak up.  Like I mentioned above, so often people who are suffering might be too afraid to say anything. Often, however, if you are close enough with a person you might see signs that something is going on with them before they are able to articulate anything to you. Sit down with that person, gently explain what you have been noticing, ask them if they are ok or if they would like to talk. Let them know they matter to you and even if they don’t choose to open up right away, oftentimes just letting them know you are there if they want to can make the biggest difference.    

Offer to just be there and listen.  The first time I got up the courage to call someone when I was having a panic attack, I called my mom. She came and got me and we sat down at the kitchen table over a cup of hot tea and I told her what I was experiencing. We talked about it for as long as I wanted to, with her mostly sitting there just listening. The most important thing that came out of that conversation, however, was that I put my embarrassment aside, finally spoke up, and now had people who knew what was going on with me and were in my corner. I was reassured I could call them day or night if/when another attack happened and that put my mind so much at ease that I only wish I would have spoken up sooner.

Educate yourself. Having a greater understanding of what someone you care about might be going through can only aid in your being as empathetic as possible to their situation. While you will probably never totally understand what another person is experiencing exactly, being as tuned in and knowledgeable as you can be might assist you in not only knowing how you should handle the situation when they come to you but also can help in steering them in the right direction as far as getting the professional help they might need.   

Offer to explore options for getting help together. Having someone on your side, assisting you with looking into seeking out professional help to deal with your issues can make the whole process seem much less scary and overwhelming. Someone in the midst of dealing with mental health issues might already be overwhelmed just trying to keep their head above water, so offering to take their hand and start exploring ways to get them outside help could be just the encouragement they need to begin the process. Again, the value of not feeling alone to deal with everything on one’s own is so huge to someone who just might need that little extra push to begin the healing process.

DON’T:

Try to diagnose or fix the person yourself.  While being educated is great, unless maybe you are a clinical psychologist, better to just be there in a supportive role rather than to try to give advice to “fix” the problem.  Mental health issues are often much more complex than how they manifest outwardly, so again just being there to listen and offer support is your best bet when someone opens up to you. Be a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a safe space where someone can come and talk about what is going on with them, but steer clear of asking too many questions or trying to diagnose that person yourself.  

Offer up a story about how you went through something similar.  While this may seem like a helpful way to try to relate and make the person seem less alone, oftentimes it comes across like you are trying to shift the focus onto yourself and may not truly be listening to what the person who is opening up is really saying. Again, while it may be coming from a good place, you don’t want to seem like you are just waiting to have your turn to talk. Make every effort you can just to listen.

Say “this will pass”. Saying something like “this will pass” or “this feeling is only temporary” can sound very diminishing and often make the person on the receiving end feel ashamed for even bringing the issue up. While some mental health issues can get better with time and treatment, when the person is in the midst of suffering hearing something of this nature can sound very dismissive and like the person, they chose to confide in is just brushing off the problem. These are big issues no matter how temporary or permanent they end up being so if someone chooses you to confide in please take them very seriously because they may have already been suffering in silence for some time.  

While I do think recently the climate has started to slowly change to where it is more acceptable and less taboo to talk about mental health struggles, it really shouldn’t be something anyone is ever ashamed to share or admit to. Given all that we have been living through this year, it is especially important right now to speak up if you even think there might be something going on with you that is out of the ordinary or you are having trouble dealing with yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all talk about what is really going on with us and maybe find a way to work through it together? There are so many people out there who might also be struggling with something very similar to what you are so let’s work on ending the stigma and make this conversation one it is perfectly ok to have!

xoxoxo,

Beth

62 thoughts on “Let’s talk MORE about mental health…”

  1. Well-written! And as someone who suffers from PTSD, I whole-heartedly agree that there isn’t enough open dialogue about mental health. Society needs to collectively accept mental health as an acceptable open topic of conversation and speak freely.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Hey I got the notification that you liked my blog post
    That drove me to your page and to my astonishment the idea of your blog posts are so similar to that of mine 😁
    But it’s also a fact that blogs related to life and mental health are quite rare, So let’s gear up and make this one of the most popular genre 👍👍

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Hi Beth, thanks for sharing. I truly enjoyed reading your post. What I’ve noticed with myself is that I often don’t even notice how down I’m feeling until someone else points it out to me. Having a close family member or friend is a blessing!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. It is so wonderful that mental illness is losing its stigma and becoming more and more recognized as a real thing, not just imagination or something you can “snap out of”

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Hi! I really like your post, especially the way you describe it in detail. mental health issue is very important and sensitive also for those who do not understand or knows. be kind and gentle with those who are facing with this illness
    loved this. and I hope you would also like to check my site:
    Fitness Health Motto
    thanks for sharing

    Liked by 6 people

  6. A very good read, thank you for this. Unfortunately we find that too many people try to self diagnose or listen to the advice of the ‘relatives’ rather than seeking professional help until the situation may become too much to bear. Glad you touched on this aspect as well.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Hi Fitambitious, so nice to connect with you. This article on mental health is awesome.. This topic is the need of the hour as cases increase every day. I am very interested in healthy and wellness too, so let’s make it a great topic. Here’s to happy blogging. Thanks for connecting.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Thank you for sharing your experience. I understand how for some struggling with mental health is a burden they feel like carrying alone, but it takes a great measure of strength and humility to be transparent with yourself and others about internal struggles. Thanks for setting an example!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. A very human article. Sometimes I might look well put together (and I mean sometimes lol) and my smiles and laughter tells a story of happiness but, occasionally its a facade. Society dictates that we all present ourselves a specific way so that we might fit in. Inside though, I’ve got a torture device of a brain that is telling me I’m too fat, my face is not symmetrical, I squint too much, I’m not tall enough, etc etc. However, as you adeptly articulate, this is all natural and just about all of us in the world are “Not ok” from time to time (or all of the time). Understanding I’m not alone and having this meta-connection to others is a reminder to be kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello Beth, we’ve just come across your blog and think its great! We have also just begun our blog adventure and hope you would have time to have a look. We are mental health focused and have some exciting content coming in soon. It would be fab to get some feedback?

    Thanks

    Nick & Lucy

    http://www.2mindstogether.co.uk

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great article. I’ve never put much thought into mental health before but with being stuck working from home twice over the last 12 months for periods of 3+ months each, I’ve found my normally sunny disposition fairly cloudy. I’ve not found myself in the depths of despair but mental health is a real and extremely important aspect of our wellbeing that’s often overlooked.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes and I think more people these days are experiencing exactly the same things you mentioned. It is more important than ever to feel comfortable reaching out and talking to someone if you aren’t feeling like yourself! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  12. This is such great advice, talking about mental health can inspire others and talking really helps people let it all out so I’m sure this post will help others! I actually did a similar post to you where I shared some ways to deal with some mental health problems which I’d love for you to check out: https://zainabchats.wordpress.com/2021/02/11/ways-to-cope-with-mental-health-during-lockdown-collab-with-purely-kiki/ Great post!!! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m struggling right now and can’t find any reason to keep my head above the water but I decided to read something and finally happened to see this article, it helps me a lot and now I’m feeling a lot better than earlier. Thank you for saving me today! and please do take care of yourself too, you are wanted and you matter always! again, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I can relate . Your suggestions are absolutely right . Mental health is very important as physical health . Lot of people have problems with speek up but once they know that how wonderful feeling is to feel light they will surely open up. Cover up your emotions is one of the great reason of metal health problems. So , we have to spread the awareness .

    Liked by 3 people

  15. At one point, you say you don’t talk about these issues because you want this space to be positive and motivating. Well, wouldn’t it be positive and motivating for people to see how you have overcome them? Also, it is impossible to be positive by ignoring a problem. That means the problem is still there, but nothing is being done about it.

    I also have quite a few posts on my blog about mental health. Check them out if you have time, and maybe even leave a comment or two! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It’s mental health week here in the UK and this resonates with me and all your points are great and sharing your story shows your vulnerable side which shows your human side. There is no perfection, there is no right or wrong but simply our perception of how we interact with the world around us and if it isn’t working for us, we make changes. I do hope you’re managing your anxiety attacks and thriving more than you’re not.

    Thanks for sharing such a brilliant post.

    Take it easy

    Mike

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s