So, people are talking about the importance of talking about mental health. In truth, I reckon well over half of these people wouldn’t be as forthcoming when it came to their own state of mind. It’s one of those topics that naturally make us feel out of our personal comfort zone. But that’s understandable, right?
We walk around with our physical bodies on display (this is fraught with its own issues) and present ourselves to one another on a daily basis. We use our voices, gestures and facial expressions to express our basic needs and desires to others, minute by minute. But, like the proverbial iceberg, there is over 90% of what makes us who we are that remains unseen. We release snippets of ourselves as circumstances arise and we can create absolutely any version of us at whim. Our minds are the one aspect of our existence of which we are the only ones in control. And most of the time, we aren’t entirely sure we understand it all. So, it’s a fair assumption that opening up that dusty old encyclopaedia and, god forbid, allowing someone else to explore the periphery is never going to be easy.
Many self-awareness theories will subtly advise us *against* deep analysis of our inner selves. It seems popular, with today’s stresses and fast pace, to pare everything back to basics. Do not over-analyse. Do not concern yourself with things out of your immediate control. Keep it simple. Oh, and my own personal favourite – Surround yourself only with those who lift your spirits, think positive thoughts and make you happy. Forgive me for lowering the tone, but WTactualF? In a wonderful little hippie nutshell, these so-called peace advocates are advising the general public to ignore people who are unhappy, pass by those who have fallen or maybe, just tripped a little and leave behind anyone with unpredictable mental health. Isn’t that just great? Way to perpetuate the closed-off bubble of depression of all kinds. It’s not just me… is it?
Anyone who has experienced any level of mental unwellness will know that the *last* thing you want to do is discuss your innermost thoughts with someone else. Although, this can be moderately easier with a complete stranger. No one wants to actually admit they can’t cope with the world around them. So many people will plug on regardless, following a mundane daily routine just to get through each solitary hour, almost trying to convince themselves that everything is fine. But that line between ‘just fine’ and ‘really not fine’ becomes blurred so easily.
During my time spent amongst clinical depression, my most commonly repeated outpouring was the reminder that a non-depressed person is NOT happy all of the time. It’s not the norm to be happy all of the time. We need to be able to experience and express a broad range of emotional states to fully live and to empathise with others around us in general society. But, when you are clinically depressed and constantly attempting to justify how or why when you seemingly ‘have it all’, it becomes a self-perpetuating cause of feeling down. You may have a good morning that goes rapidly downhill by 3pm and then spiral back down into that dark pit pondering what on earth made you feel like a crock of shit. But actually, it’s OK to feel a bit down a lot of the time. When it becomes your main focus is when it becomes impossible to ‘pull yourself together’ (grrrr). It’s vital to take that one huge positive and ride with it – I had a good morning. Comparatively good is the same thing.
It’s safe to say that anyone with no experience, firsthand or by proxy, of mental health issues, will find it incredibly difficult to understand how someone else’s mind is throwing them into confusion a million times each hour. And nor do they want to. So, yes – when there is a newsworthy tragedy and these issues are brought to the forefront, it never hurts to try and push that little bit further and hopefully raise some extra awareness. But it’s so desperately hard to keep up the impetus. Everyone is fighting their own demons. What may seem like next to nothing to one could signify the difference between life and death to another. Despite, in essence, being physiologically alike, our minds are wired as differently as snowflakes. And no one honestly has the capacity to project a proportion of their own thoughts and ideas onto another in a bid to alleviate the dark clouds. Or total blackness. But we can communicate in a plethora of ways. And, like we naively are during any new experience, no one ever truly knows which one of these simple, kind acts will be the one to break through the lining and maybe kickstart the long, painful upwards climb to clarity. And this is why there is the strong need for consistency, repetition… persistence.
Some people are not naturally big talkers or sharers of emotion. Baring one’s soul is considered a vulnerability – an opening to be kicked down or used and abused. It’s a risky business, but it’s also vital to implement the drastic mind-shift required to spark creativity and positivity again. A problem shared is a problem halved – it’s a crude statement but it contains a hidden truth. Talking about how you actually feel allows someone outside of your own, blinkered mindset to break it all down and come up with some decisive options. Keeping things to yourself whilst treading water on a daily basis, going about your normal routines, wearing that beautiful mask – you know, the one that everyone wants to see and comes to expect – is a dangerous game in the long term. Things slip by the wayside, certain aspects of your life go neglected under the cloud of illusion that you’re continuing to live your life of normality. But at the same time, nothing ever improves and, inevitably, things and even people will drop out of your routine, usually not by your own choosing. And there comes a point when you simplify things so much that your existence pales into insignificance and you’re not really living at all. Breathing, yes. Existing, barely. Living… no.
It is perfectly feasible to begin each new day with a clean slate. Don’t dwell on the negatives of yesterday that you can’t alter. Those outcomes came and went with the passing night. If you’re very lucky, you may have actually slept through it too. Be cleansed in ways that feel good to you. Start the day on a positive and if that’s too optimistic, then start it on an emotional flat. But never start it feeling that today cannot possibly be the day when things start to change. Because every day has that hidden potential and we all need to grab it by the balls, kicking and screaming. If the passion once burned within you, its embers are still simmering away somewhere. The fact that someone or something may have pissed all over them is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how you feel. And once you begin to regain that grasp, you can graduate to other people. Don’t shut them out, but keep them at a safe distance. If they love you, they are always waiting in the wings. If they don’t, then they don’t matter.
Above all else, always, always do it on your own terms. And if you find it hard to talk about how you feel, find another way to communicate. More feelings and emotions permeate through than you will ever give credit for. I know this firsthand. Just do more of what makes you happy. A sentiment I found on a 99p mug in Wilkos. Beauty and awakening can always be found in the unlikeliest of places. You just have to keep at least one eye or one ear open and your mind will follow.