“You are so brave.” I hear that a lot.
Sometimes being brave is really, really hard. But sometimes it is just as easy as speaking the truth. You start with small acts of bravery and you work your way up to the bigger ones. And it gets easier with each one. That is the beauty of truth telling. You grow to like the feeling of freedom it gives you. And with that freedom comes a little bit of joy.
One of the things that prompts this “You are so brave” comment for me is this very blog you are reading and the way that I talk so freely about my personal mental health even in daily conversation. Bravery is sometimes a combination of vulnerability and truth-telling. It is hella hard at first. You wonder “What will they think of me if they know this thing? This secret. Will they still like me? Will they think I’m crazy?” But it is so damn important. And when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If they choose not to like you for something that is a part of what makes you “you” then they are not your people. There are billions more out there, find some different ones. Find the ones that will love you for you. I promise there are so many of us out there in the world. And most of us are surprisingly accepting.
Also, honestly most people don’t care. A good percentage of people are dealing with similar things and they are relieved to hear they are not the only ones. They will tell you that just knowing someone else is dealing with the same shit is helpful in making it through another day. And the people who are not dealing with it either know someone who is or they are too embarrassed to talk about it so they just ignore it and let it go. Mostly you will probably help another human by speaking your truth. By being brave.
I want to live in a world where nobody goes a lifetime without getting the basic mental healthcare they need because they are embarrassed to talk about it. Where nobody feels like being strong is “sucking it up” and dealing with it on their own or even worse just stuffing those feelings way down deep until they become too much to deal with. Where nobody feels isolated and alone in their struggles to find a glimmer of hope and happiness. Where nobody gets to the point where they hurt so much inside that the only way they can see to escape the pain is to end their life. Where meds for mental health are treated no differently than meds for any chronic illness. Where mental health is just health.
I think the best way we can get there is for everyone to just start talking about it. It doesn’t need to be in a big way. It can just be little things. But mostly it is about not making a big deal about it. Treat it like it is a normal thing. Because it is. Don’t just stop the stigma. Smash the shit out of it.
I shouldn’t be considered brave because I talk about this critical part of my daily health. In fact I hope there comes a day very, very soon where nobody calls me brave anymore. Where I am just a normal person with a slightly broken brain. Like a pretty large population of the world.
But until that day I will “be brave” and I will speak up and I will truth tell. And I hope you will too. Help me out because none of us can do this on our own. Both the surviving the darkness part AND the smashing the stigma part. Ever since I decided I wouldn’t anymore my life has felt better. Happier. More hopeful. I want that for everyone.
Love to all of you. The unconditional kind ❤