I posted this on my Instagram today:
For a long time, I took pride in being someone who was independent and strong, someone who had their shit together. But in the last several months, I’ve experienced again the wounds that pain and loneliness leave, had my emotions betray me and slip through the grasp of my control. I’ve cried in cafes, on public transport, at work.
There were days where being ‘normal’ was exhausting and I was constantly running on empty, rolling through the motions of life but never feeling like I was actually living them. Not everyday was like this but when I wasn’t living in this bleakness, I was terrified and in anticipation of when it would hit again. For the first time in my life, I lost my appetite. I had no interest in food and felt nauseas constantly.
I guess my experience goes to show that even if you’re not someone who identifies as having anxiety or depression, you can still feel anxious and depressed. No one is above mental health.
Today is the last day of Mental Health Awareness Week but I hope that our awareness extends beyond seven days in a year. We are all on our own mental health journey and we need to support each other in this. I can’t stress enough how important good communities are. Mine has helped me see that the future can be my friend again, that one day I will feel safe enough to go back to being recklessly optimistic and hopeful. They have made all the difference. We all have the ability to be that difference in our communities. Let’s be people who walk with each other and carry each other through everything that life throws at us.
Before pressing the “Post” button, I went back and forth, back and forth in my head about whether or not to go ahead with it. On the one hand, I wanted to normalise talking about mental health and open up that conversation but at the same time, I was scared of what people would think when they saw what I had written. Would they think I was just being a drama queen? Would they worry about my mental state and change the way they interact with me? I’ve never made myself so publicly vulnerable before.
In the end, I decided to post it because dialogue is so tantamount to a mentally healthier future. If we want to see our country’s suicide rates come down, and for society to be a safer place for people to open up about mental health, then we need to cultivate that now, in our own communities.
I’m not the poster girl for overcoming mental health issues, even though I talk about it in the past tense in my post. I’m not sure I’ll ever overcome mental health issues, or if it’s even possible for anyone to do that. I’m starting to see and understand mental health as a tunnel – sometimes you’re closer to the light and other times you’re in the pitch black. We’re all together, though, somewhere in the tunnel. That’s why we need to join forces, so that those of us closer to the light can lead the ones in the dark, out of it. And just because you might be in the dark, it doesn’t mean that the light has gone. It’s still there, it will always be there, waiting for you.