I’ve written and rewritten this several times. I’ve gone back & forth on if I should share. But I promised myself a long time ago that I would stop letting fear dictate my decisions. I promised myself I would be authentic, raw, and real. This has been weighing heavy on my heart for a while now and I have talked with various people about it so here it goes… Just give me a moment to step back on my Mental Health soapbox so all the people in the back can hear me…
I’m sure you have all seen various posts since COVID-19 took off in the US about “the new normal” . Many of them say something along the lines of how our old normal wasn’t working and how “this is our time to reevaluate what we want normal to be”. Words like “greed”, “exhaustion”, and “selfishness” are wanting to be replaced with “compassion”, “slowing down”, and “empathy”.
I’m sure you have seen these posted by many people you know, or even by yourself, agreeing with these statements. I know I did. Except I added in my own little bit:
This was posted just a few days after I found out a close family friend lost their battle with depression. I do not want to disclose details to be mindful of his family and friends, but if you’re close to me or this person, you know. Once I found this out, it brought up a lot of feelings. I found myself gutted. I could feel my heart in my stomach. I felt empathy, heartache, sadness, frustrated.. but mostly just sick.
Not with anyone specific, but with society. I felt sick of people saying “we’re all stressed” or “it’s a weird time” without actually listening or holding space. I felt even frustrated with all these posts about “maybe we needed this as a wake up call” because I feel like no one is WAKING UP. People post and talk about how they want change, but then don’t take the time to actually listen. So many people are quick to say they care and post on social media about it but no one actually wants to hold that space. The sad part is, I feel like I can’t even blame these people either. They likely aren’t waking up because they’re repressing their own emotional issues that they have yet to know how to process.
“…these are lives we’re losing. How many people have to take their lives for people to actually begin to wake up?“
But these are lives we’re losing. How many people have to take their lives for people to actually begin to wake up? Every time (I hate that even have to say “every time”) this happens, it cuts a little deeper. This is the third person I have been told about losing this battle since quarantine began. And I don’t mean I heard about it through a news headline (sadly I’ve seen too many of those), but from family or a friend who knew this person.
The scariest part of all of this is that the professionals that are supposed to “helping us” are a massive part of the problem. Big Pharma needs to stop pill pushing and make mental health resources more available and normalized. They’ve somehow made mental health simultaneously somehow too complicated, yet not important enough to be taken seriously.
Psychologists and psychiatrists are insanely inaccessible due to insurance rarely covering them and those that are accessible are usually at the cost of the doctor (i.e. sliding scales, changing their titles, etc). Hell, my psychiatrist is “covered” under my insurance and I still have a $80 co-pay every time I see her. While I am lucky enough to have the financial stability to cover this, many aren’t.
For those of you who aren’t aware of just how hard and expensive it is to find a psychiatrist or psychologist, read about just one personal experience I had here: Mental Health & Medication.
As for my therapist? She is hands down the best therapist I’ve had (and I’ve seen a lot). But she has had to change her title to “life coach” – even though she has all the education of a psychologist – because she was sick of having to deal with insurance and the requirement to diagnose each of her patients and put them in little boxes with a set time-frame for treatment. As I asked her more about her reasoning behind the switch, she said “most people don’t have mental illness. Instead, shame, fear, and poor modeling and cultural messages have led to limited living and poor coping skills.” She went on to say that – “more than anything – they need love and acceptance just as they are with a hope and healthy game plan for their future – not medicine.”
“…Most people don’t have mental illness. Instead, shame, fear, and poor modeling and cultural messages have lead to limited living and poor coping skills. More than anything they need love and acceptance just as they are with a hope and healthy game plan for their future – not medicine.”
Therapy does not make you weak nor do you need to go just because you’re gone through a traumatic experience or because something is wrong with you. I could dive deeper into this, but that isn’t the point of this post. Feel free to read more about my thoughts on this in “I Don’t Need Therapy”
I’m so grateful I have resources and people in my life that have gotten me to where I am today. Because I know for a fact I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. Now am I saying that any of the people that lost their battles with the dark space inside their head didn’t have the space, support, or resources? Absolutely not. I think there are some things that we simply still do not understand.
I will say that mental health has become much less stigmatized over the last decade; being researched and talked about much more. However, things that are detrimental to our mental health are progressing much faster than things that are helping. The brain is a very complicated and fragile organ, that we are learning more and more about as it continues to evolve. It is important we continue to speak openly and honestly. It is more important now than ever to really mean what we say and say what we feel.
“So, do I think our old normal was working? Absolutely not. But do I see steps toward a “new normal” evolving? Sadly, the answer is also no. It seems now more than ever greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, and extraction are amplified. I continue to see less boundaries, empathy, and happiness everyday.”
So, do I think our old normal was working? Absolutely not. But do I see steps toward a “new normal” evolving? Sadly, the answer is also no. It seems now more than ever greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, and extraction are amplified. I continue to see less boundaries, empathy, and happiness everyday. If it was, you’d be able to find a therapist easily that you can afford and without having to have a reason to go other than to feel heard. If it was, you wouldn’t feel guilty for calling into work because your anxiety is through the roof. If it was, you would be able you say you’re not ok and people would actually stop and say “how can I help” – even if that’s just sitting and listening. But many are too busy with their lives that are somehow all so much better (on social media) yet worse (because they don’t have the time).
You are breathing and living and you are on this planet for a very specific reason. I want you to know that. I want you to feel that in your bones and if you don’t, I promise you there are people that will stand with you until you do.
So all in all, if you’ve made it this far, I want you to know that you are worthy of life and so much more. You are more than your pain and words that have cut deep into your soul. How do I know this? Because you are a human being. You are breathing and living and you are on this planet for a very specific reason. I want you to know that. I want you to feel that in your bones and if you don’t, I promise you there are people that will stand with you until you do.
These people are your family and friends. It is me. It is the professionals and specialists. It is God. We are your tribe and WE will talk with you and – even more importantly – listen. We will support you and help you however we can. Nothing is too dark, deep, or scary for your tribe. And if – somehow – it is – we will help you find the resources for someone or something who can hold that space and dive that deep. Once we find those depths, we will soon find the light again. The light that was always there, just maybe buried a little deeper.