Mental health: the words are as common as Coca-Cola.
But what is the actual problem? Why is our mental health so fragile? Was it always this way? Were we just none the wiser?
Three decades ago, when I was roughly seven years old, feeling depressed or anxious was not as prevalent. Children who were feeling sad, hurt, nervous, or tired received responses from the adult generation of that era (through no fault of their own; they knew no different) such as:
>> big girls don’t cry
>> real men are tough
>> only babies cry
>> you’re okay
>> is anyone dead?
>> are you bleeding to death?
>> get over it
>> move on
Three decades ago, these feelings of “sad, hurt, nervous, tired” were suppressed.
As the feelings became more and more suppressed, the body, mind, and soul of the “human beings” began to suffocate, struggling to survive in this world. But us, human beings, don’t give up that easily. So this human being decided something had to be done.
Let me introduce you to depression and anxiety; the mind, body, and soul expressing those feelings that were suppressed. The human being said, “Well, if people aren’t going to feel it, express it, deal with it, then I’m going to bring something into their life that will make sure they are okay. It will exhaust and debilitate them, but it will look after them; it will keep them safe.”
That “something” is now labelled depression and anxiety. There you go, the human being says, “Now they are good to live, albeit exhausted and debilitated.”
Wonderful (insert sarcasm). The planet is populated with hoards of human beings walking around with depression and anxiety. Now what? Oh, that’s right, the nations have awareness days. We promote removing the stigma days, fundraising days, epic physical battles for a good cause days, and of course, don’t let me forget the big pharma companies that create pill after pill. We are all so “aware” of mental health. I’ll ask the question again, now what?
Fast track to the 21st century, not only do we have people living in their 50s, 40s, and late 30s who have been suppressing their emotions for years, they also have offspring who are now being told that it’s okay to feel, it’s okay to be sad, hurt, nervous, tired, to cry, to not be okay, to lean into the feelings, to truly sit with them and feel them, to create a space for self-care. Those in their preteens, teens, 20s, and early 30s are wondering, “Okay, I’ve done all that, now what?”
We have an even larger scale issue: generations of people with suppressed feelings are trying to escape. That is labelled depression and anxiety; that is exhausting and debilitating. And their children know it’s okay to not be okay, are feeling the feels, and now have no idea what to do with their emotions—neither do their parents (it’s not their fault). I’ll ask the question again, now what?
To those who were encouraged to suppress their feelings, to move on, and get on with life, if this message is no longer working out in a positive way for you, and you are anxious or depressed most of the time, my first suggestion is to remember you weren’t born with your anxiety or depression: you have created it for a reason.
It’s time to remind yourself that you are safe and protected exactly as the amazing person you were born as. Do this by constantly telling yourself, “I am safe, I am protected, I am brave, I am strong, I am enough.” When I say “constantly,” I mean it. No fluffing around; you take control back. The neurons in your mind need to be connecting themselves with the adult visionary of you—not the child vision.
To those who are being encouraged to feel the feels, if you don’t know what to do to release, let go, shred, remove, move on from (whatever the wording may be for you) that feeling, I encourage you to acknowledge the feeling. Yes, take a deep breath, do whatever it is you need to do, talk, cry, shower, scream, run, meditate, cool off for no longer than five minutes, and take a deep breath again.
Work out what you need to do to allow the feeling to move through you body—that is, not get stuck in your head, heart, body. You may need to try a few different things to see what works for you. After that time is up, it is time to understand these questions, write them down, and keep writing all the words/sentences that come into your head.
>> What is this event trying to teach me?
>> Can I understand and see the event from another angle?
>> Am I reacting to the event? How? Now finish the sentence, “I am reacting to this event by…”
With respect, kindness to ourselves and others, taking control and responsibility for our own lives, implementing direction with ourselves with clear intention and purpose, we can all live happy fulfilled lives.