A friend of mine approached me a couple months ago, asking for advice on what she should do. She had recently been diagnosed with a mental health issue (that I am not going to talk about, because it’s not my story) and if she should tell her bosses about it, in case an event happened, or something with the new medication she is on has a weird effect her. She was nervous about it, and I told her, “It’s totally up to you. It’s your mental health, and if you want to let them know, then definitely do, don’t be ashamed of it, but if you don’t want to, that’s okay too.” She came to me because I seem so open about my own struggles with my mental health.
I guess in ways I am a bit open about my mental health, but only just recently, and I think it’s because I’ve really started to accept that I deal with it. Thankfully it’s not an, “everyday is debilitating” thing for me, mine is very much based on triggers. Everyone feels anxiety sometimes, it just so happens that when mine comes along and it’s triggered, it can be almost unbearable and it comes in waves. It can very much take me out for a while, and leave me feeling emotionally and physically exhausted.
For me, talking about it makes it normal. I hope it’s helping to de-stigmatize it a bit because in all honesty, it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. People talk about how when you say you go to the dentist people accept it, but if you say you’re going to see a therapist, they look at you funny. (Watch Howie Mandel talk about it for Bell Let’s Talk right here.) Having someone say, “Hey, I deal with my mental health too!” is comforting. It’s like hearing, “Hey, you deal with this really hard thing that no one else wants to talk about, well I just want to let you know, you are not alone.” and when you feel like you’re not alone, it helps.
I encourage you to be brave, talk about your mental health. I won’t quit talking about it, because I want everyone who knows me, to know that I’m not perfect, that I have hard things in my life, but also that they’re not alone, that I struggle too. I am who I am. I get panicky, I get anxious, I have full on attacks that are terrifying, and sometimes makes me feel like I don’t want to live anymore. But my label is not, “anxious, panicky girl”. I am more than the mental health issues I deal with. I am the book girl, the silly fun girl, the stands up for her friends girl, the photography girl, the “I like to write blogs” girl, the “I like to wear dresses because I look hella cute in them” girl. I am so many different things and at any given time I am so many more. I’ve worked too hard to love myself to let my recent struggles make me hate myself again.
So again, I encourage you to talk about it, but if you don’t want to or feel ready to, you don’t have to. Your struggles and difficulties are yours, but you’re not alone in them. Remember, you are more than your mental health issues, they are not what define you as a person. You define who you are, and don’t let the world take those precious pieces of you away. Fight for yourself, get the help you need, because you are loved beyond comprehension.