This past Tuesday (October 10th) was National Mental Health Day. Mental health tends to be a topic that not a lot of people feel comfortable talking about because of the stigma that surrounds it. We've unfortunately grown up in a society that told us (both men and women) to not show our emotions or talk about our feelings because we'll be viewed as "weak". I'm sorry, but when someone makes the decision to open up to me about things that have happened to them throughout their life, the last thing I think is that they are is weak. I think it's freakin' admirable to have the courage to open up, be vulnerable and talk about obstacles you have faced in the past or are currently facing. I also think that when one person starts talking, it cantrigger a domino effect. People hear someone else's story and realize that they aren't the only ones who have faced that struggle. It makes people feel like they're not alone and may even inspire them to share their own story.
Personally, being open with people and trusting them was something that took me a LONG time to do. By a "long time" - I'm talking years and then some. As a child, I kept to myself, read a lot of books and was shy, but believe me when I tell you - I had a whole lot of thoughts and emotions going on inside. I was always thinking, and still am that way to this day. (The best way to describe the way my brain works is to think of it as an internet browser with about 10 tabs open at all times). The one difference between now and then is that I've learned to talk about my feelings and let my emotions show. My parents got divorced when I was six years old, which lead to years of family therapy sessions. Which in turn, made me hate going to therapy and talking about my feelings. A lot of the time, it felt forced, awkward and uncomfortable. Therefore, once I was old enough to make the decision not to go anymore - I stopped.
Fast forward to college, where there were a series of traumatic events that occurred one after another during my first couple of years there. Instead of going back to therapy and talking about all of the things I had going on, I just bottled everything up inside. Was that healthy? Absolutely not. But at that time, my mindset was that I didn't "need" therapy or help, I could just figure things out on my own. Again, fast forward to the years after college, where I faced even more serious family issues. Did I seek help? Nope, I tried to run away from my problems by being home as little as possible. Sure, I talked to some of my friends about the things I was going through here and there, but I reached a point where I figured if I was sick of talking about my problems, they were probably sick of hearing about them.
Not talking about my problems or feelings started impacting my life and relationships negatively. I was frustrated and angry because I was sad and hadn't worked through years of emotions. This is where I learned about the importance of building a support system and figuring out which coping methods worked for me. I began meditating, doing yoga, journaling and going back to therapy. Is therapy fun? No, not really. But it sure as hell is helpful and can lead to some holy crap, mind blowing breakthroughs. Sometimes we don't realize what we're feeling or why we're feeling it until we hear someone else say it back to us (an "a-ha" moment if you will).
It took me about 8-9 years to realize that going back to therapy would be beneficial to my mental health. Yes, you read that correctly - eight to nine years. Why? I'm still not totally sure. Maybe because it was hard for me to admit that I'm not completely okay and do need help, because I don't like crying in front of people, because I don't want people to judge me, pity me or view me differently, because I'm the type of person that likes to be able to figure things out on my own. Guess what I learned? I simply cannot do everything, it's just not possible.
The point of this blog post isn't to talk about my problems or the struggles I've faced. I simply wrote it to remind YOU that you're NOT alone and that there are ways to deal with the numerous things that life throws your way. So if you've been feeling stressed, exhausted, sad, angry, depressed, burnt out; any or all of the above - it happens. If you feel like you do need someone to talk to work through things, there are TONS of resources. Or if you even want to reach out to me and talk - please do so. I'm not a therapist, but I am here and willing to listen. I may not know exactly how you're feeling or what you're going through, but I'm sure I can relate in some way.