When is it that we learn to keep our mouths closed, to suffer in silence when we feel like we aren’t enough? Do we learn it from our surroundings we grow up in, no matter what our circumstances or upbringing may be? Do we pick it up at school when we are made fun of and called a cry-baby because we get upset with a bad grade on a test or a fight we had with our best friend under the monkey bars at recess? Whatever it is, wherever it comes from, it needs to stop. Now.
Mental health (yes, I said it, and I’ll say it many times before the end of this post) is as much of a swear word as the F word in our society. You can’t talk about mental health, that’s personal. If you talk about it, you give it legs to stand on, you give it life and then you have to do something about it. If I don’t say it or complain about it, I don’t have to be accountable for changing anything about it. Well, I’m gonna say and I’m gonna do something about it, starting right here, right now. You can stop reading now if your virgin eyes have already seen too much.
I have a son, a very strong-willed son, who is also extremely emotional. He has feelings inside him that he doesn’t even know how to emote. Why doesn’t he know? I wish I could answer that question, because it would sure help me help him when he just doesn’t know how to talk about what he is feeling. The one way that he has found to tell me about the things that go through his mind is that his brain is fighting his heart and his brain is winning. On several occasions he says that his brain is punching his heart and telling it to shut up. The first time he ever said that, I had no idea how to react. I thought maybe he was making it up to keep from getting in trouble for a bad day at school. But you know what, sometimes, some days, I feel like my brain and my heart are in a head to heart death match and there really is no winner. So, while I never could have explained it in that way, I think he’s a pretty amazing little boy to astutely make that statement. He has said this many more times and I do the unthinkable with him when he does. We talk about it. Yep, we sure do. We have an actual conversation about his feelings and what he could have done differently to avoid the blow up that happened over the course of the interaction between his brain and his heart. I even let him cry about it. I know, my kid is doomed to a life of being a sissy and a pussy (good lord I hate that word), but as long as he knows he is allowed to talk about what is bothering him, call him what you want. I call him brave. I call him smart. I call him compassionate. And if he can treat others with that same compassion because he knows what it’s like to have emotions building up inside you that you just can’t get rid of, he just might change the world some day. And I’m ok with that. I would rather my kid become part of a good statistic.
Please, please, please. Cry when you need to. Scream when you don’t know what else to do. Pick up the phone and call someone you trust that will listen and let you let it out. We have been so conditioned with guilt, embarrassment, and shame for sharing our true feelings and it is literally killing us. From those taking their own lives to victims (yes, we are all victims of our circumstances) taking the lives of others because of an illness that was never diagnosed or treated, or simply a situation that was never addressed, there are people you come into contact with everyday who are fighting demons you could never comprehend. How do I know? Because I’m a depression survivor who has lived to tell my story, I’m one of the lucky ones.
I will make it my purpose to bring awareness to mental health issues and helping others find the support that they need, no matter what society says about them. We all have something that we are fighting and some of our opponents are larger than others. Remember, it takes just one traumatic event to change your entire life and send you down a path that you aren’t ready for. Talk about it. Read about it. Do something about it. Now.
My first book, Forty Years of Practice, outlines some of the darkest days of my life and how those events made me stronger. If you need a motivational story to get you out of your current dark place, follow this link: Forty Years of Practice