Let's Talk Mental Health and Self Care #BellLetsTalk
I know I don’t share much of myself online, and I don’t necessarily feel like I need to, but I did want to contribute to this conversation because it’s important to me and for the people I care about. It’s taken me a long time to get here (I tried last year but opted for something less personal instead) but here we are. No, this isn't sponsored and I'm not involved in the campaign.
Mental health doesn’t always take the form you expect it to; it’s not always as obvious. Last summer, mine came in the form of an anxiety attack disguised as stomach cramps that sent me to the hospital. I had a full day: work, event, event, work, and it was after I took this photo that I quietly slipped into an Uber with Phil and headed for the ER. I hadn’t acknowledged or even realized that I was stressed until the doctor asked - apparently stress is directly connected to gut issues. “Hmm, I guess life is pretty stressful right now,” was my response. A lot was happening but I never felt like it was out of my control. I don’t do stress, I just do jokes. In the grand scheme, it still wasn’t that bad. I thought that self care was as simple as staying home when I felt like it (harder than it seems).
I don’t like to complain because I know I'm fortunate to have what I have and I am forever grateful for the people in my life. I’ll never complain about being tired when I’m working because this is what I asked for. Being tired doesn't really cross my mind in these scenarios, even if I sleep for 8 minutes over two days.
But this isn't about complaining and that’s where the stigma lies: dismissing feelings, both physical and mental, as if it’s “not as important” as somebody else’s. It's not a contest about who has the saddest story. The issue wasn’t just that I didn’t reach out to someone, it was that I didn’t even take the time to realize what I was feeling until I was physically forced to feel it. There have been moments of crippling anxiety but I always told myself to get up and face the day - some days I did, and some days I didn’t - but this isn’t always a choice and certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution. Mental illness looks different on everyone.
I’ve never tried to take my own life and I don’t know what it’s like to feel so hopeless for that to feel like the best solution, but I pray for those who have. I know too many people who have. Surround yourself with positive energy and take the time to take care of yourself, whatever that looks like. Turn off your “boss” mentality for a second and let yourself feel and be vulnerable, even if it’s just with yourself. You may be drowning in responsibility but your first responsibility is to be here. I know sometimes it takes time to feel comfortable with letting other people in, and that's okay too.
If you ever feel alone, know that you are not, and know that what you're feeling is not by choice. Let’s overcome the stigma and talk about it, not just today, but every day.
For more information, visit the #BellLetsTalk site. If you have any other suggestions or something to share, feel free to leave a comment.