I’ve been seeing more open discussions on mental health lately. It’s been on the news, commercials, social media. I’m glad to see it becoming less taboo, that people are more comfortable talking about issues, about stress, depression, anxiety, and the other ailments that we all deal with.
But it got me thinking about mental health in general. Partly because of the stereotype that all artists are batshit crazy, but also because I wonder how similar we all are when it comes to psychological issues.
I mean, we all have our baggage, the crap we carry around in our heads that helps to make us who we are. Childhood traumas, insecurities, emotional demons. Obviously, some have it worse than others. That’s a given. But I think that, at some level, we all have similar baggage we’re carrying.
The thing is, some people process their issues better than others. I think that we all have, at some level, anxieties and fears. Deep down, we all wonder if we’re going to make it, we all wonder if we have a breaking point. We’re all a little afraid of the unknown, of the chaos around us. We all wonder if we’re good enough, strong enough, to carry the load. It’s what makes us human.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no shame in being anxious or afraid. Sure, some people have a harder time dealing with it, processing it. Those are the people who need to talk to someone, a professional, and maybe need some pharmaceutical assistance. It’s not weakness. In fact, I think the people who recognize they need help and go and get it are the strong ones. They are aware of their weaknesses, their faults, and they know they can’t manage it as well as they should. That takes strength.
Unfortunately, there are the other ones, the people who refuse to accept they have any issues, who refuse to look inside and take stock of their own shortcomings and needs. The thing is, I find that looking inside every so often is useful. Being self-aware not only of our strengths, but also our weaknesses, can make us healthier and happier human beings. We have to acknowledge our anxieties, our fears, our faults. We can’t address them unless we are aware of them. Once we do that, then we can start on the path to becoming healthier individuals.
For example, say you have anxiety in social situations. You’re aware of it and try to avoid any environments that can set you off. That’s a start. But what about digging deeper and finding the reason you feel that anxiety. Where is the root cause? What happened in your past that has driven you to this point? Along with that, what are the things that trigger you? Sure, crowds of people, strangers, can upset you, but why? What specific things trigger than anxiety? When you start asking yourself these questions and actively search for the answers, you’re on your way to healing.
And no, I’m not a mental health specialist. I’m someone who isn’t much different from anyone else on this planet. I’m just as anxious about the future, about life in general, as anyone else. I understand what it’s like to feel as if you’re in free-fall, that you don’t have control over anything. That’s life. We’re all experiencing it, but we can’t ignore it. We have to accept our current state of mind and see what we can do to process these feelings in a healthy way.
I try to be self-aware. I take stock of my action and reactions. When I get annoyed by someone, I try to understand what it is about them or the situation that annoys me. Or is it just me, something in my past that makes me feel this way in this type of environment?
Everything we’ve experienced in our lives has made us who we are at this exact point in time. Every joy, sadness, elation, fear, trauma…it’s all inside of us, inside our head. People often say that something that happened to them in the past is the reason they feel they way they do now. That’s true for all of us, but I have a caveat for this line of thinking. Everything in our past is the reason we are who we are, but it’s not an excuse for us to behave or react they way we do. In other words, we don’t have to let the past control who we are today. Sure, a bad relationship and breakup may have jaded you for future relationships, but are you going to let it affect your future relationships? Or can you process it in a way that you acknowledge the trauma, the pain, the anger, but realize that was a one-off? That last partner may have been an asshole, but the next person you go out with may be awesome…and if you let that past relationship jade you, then you may end up being someone else’s asshole.
I think that we all could use a little self-assessment in order to better ourselves, help ourselves be mentally stronger and healthier. There’s no shame in talking to a counselor about the things that keep you up at night, that stress you out, that make you worry. I mean, where’s the harm in simply talking to a professional about it? You may not think you need any guidance, but if you got some, maybe it will help you to understand yourself better, improve your relationships and interactions with others. Maybe it will make you happier. That’s not a bad thing.