I believe that talking about mental health can change your life. For many, it seems, this remains a foreign concept. Too many keep their negative thoughts, shameful feelings, and self-defeating beliefs to themselves and, as such, suffer in silence. All of us, at one time or another, struggle with depression, anxiety, low self-worth, debilitating fear, OCD, and other mental health issues. Contrary to popular belief, mental health issues are not limited to a few ‘poor souls’; they are a part of the human condition. Statistics say that one in four suffer from a mental health issue. These statistics are severely underreported because many don’t talk about their inner struggles, let alone seek profession help. Thus, they remain invisible.
Feelings of inadequacy, insecurities, depression, and anxiety are part of the human condition at different times in our lives and under different circumstances. Ask yourself honestly if you have ever felt ‘not good enough’ in the past, or even now. If you are honest with yourself, the answer will invariably be ‘yes’. Despite human feelings of inadequacy and fear, many feel they have to put a smile on a smile and keep their ‘demons’ to them selves or risk judgment or worse, rejection.
In 2017, this is a rather sad state of affairs, don’t you think? At this point in our human evolution, we still feel we have to pretend and mask parts of ourselves. Yes, unfortunately, mental health continues to carry a stigma. We are not supposed to openly and honestly talk about our personal struggles, challenges, or ‘demons’. We must hide ourselves, sometimes in guilt and shame, further debilitating ourselves. It goes even deeper. Many try to hide themselves from themselves because they don’t know any other way of coping with fear, guilt, and shame.
When people hide from themselves and others in guilt and shame, they can’t learn about their self-defeating thoughts and can’t learn to release guilt, fear, and shameful feelings. Instead, they stubbornly tell themselves, ‘I’ll figure this out on my own’, sometimes believing a vacation will cure them. Wishful thinking! They don’t realize that many of their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are negative and self-defeating, actually preventing them from releasing fears and making important decisions to improve their mental health and life circumstances. Suffering alone with mental health issues is painful and incapacitating. Doing so is dangerous because guilt, shame, low self-worth and fear can attack and grab hold of your psyche, pulling you further and further down into worthlessness and defeat.
I believe that the first step towards dealing with mental illness is to realize you are not alone and you deserve to feel good about yourself and your life. Suffering in silence and pretending ‘you got this’ when you really don’t is the worst thing you can do. The next step, and all the steps after, involve talking about your personal struggles with people you can trust. The irony here is that people suffering from mental health issues often have difficulty trusting themselves and others. They fear judgment and disapproval. In this context, they are their own worst enemies because they will not reach out for help.
I learned a long time ago that talking to the right people openly and honestly can be the antidote to depression, anxiety, and low self-worth. Just start talking. Talking openly creates connection, validation, and even laughter if you can take a step back—the antidote to low self-worth. You can learn that pain, mistakes, and challenges are part of the human condition and, as such, necessary to growth, personal development, and mental health. The world is changing, albeit slowly, and many are happy to be real and reciprocate in kind. However, be sure to trust your instincts. Those you may think ‘should’ care like a friend or family member may not have your best interests in mind.
Talking honestly about your depression, anxiety, guilt, or feelings of worthlessness can help release fears and doubts. It is natural and cathartic to communicate openly with other human beings. The truth is, everyone is dealing with their own mental health issues. Have the courage to open up and you will find others will too.
When people learn to talk, and even better, self-reflect, they build confidence and self-worth. Remember, vulnerability is not weakness, it is strength.
See a professional counsellor if you have been struggling for too long and things are not getting better. The reason this is so helpful is because we all have ‘blinders’ and an objective professional can help you see what you currently can’t see about yourself. For example, if you are a pleaser, you know little about self-care and the importance of paying attention to your needs and wants…You focus only on pleasing other’s so you can feel safe and secure. This is not a healthy way of living.
A professional can help you recognize the underlying dynamics causing your depression or anxiety and effectively shed light on the thoughts, beliefs, and decisions at the cause. Do not suffer alone and in silence.
Mental health should no longer carry a stigma. We are all dealing with our own inner struggles and challenges. Talking enables you to shed light on your limiting beliefs and build self-worth. It helps us become more conscious of our lives. In the words of Kevin Ngo, “If you don’t make time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time [and effort] dealing with a life you don’t want”.