I started this blog because I wanted a space that would be completely in my control. I wanted a small corner of the internet that could look however I wanted it to and to talk about anything at all. I love that this blog is a jumble of thoughts and questions and talks about serious stuff in one post and goofy stuff in the next. But sometimes I get a little too caught up and anxious about maintaining this “randomness”. At times I am too preoccupied with writing articles on a range of topics that I fail to write the articles that are the most personal and really matter to me.
Sometimes I feel like I talk about mental health too much. There have been multiple occasions when I can remember actively avoiding bringing up a conversation about mental health. Thinking about that now I am disgusted. Somewhere along the line I got this idea in my head that if I wrote or talked too much about mental health that it would drive people away from me, from my blog, that I would be labeled a one trick pony, and that what I had to say would be deemed repetitive and meaningless. And so somehow, this little corner of the internet, that I created to talk about whatever I wanted and hoped that maybe something I had to say would touch someone else, became a space that I allowed to be dominated by anxiety over whether or not I seemed “relatable” or “relevant”.
This Wednesday October 25th it will be exactly 6 years since I told my parents about my self-harm. It’s been a little over a year since I started to tell my friends. It’s been a little under a year since I tattooed “pedal fast” on the outside of my wrist. And it’s been a little under 11 months since I told anyone with access to a screen all about my secret. It has been an emotional rollercoaster to say the very least. There have been setbacks. It has been hard. But if there is anything that I have learned, it is that conversations about mental health are among the most relatable and humanizing conversations we can have.
I fervently disagree with the idea that conversations about mental health don’t apply to all of us. While maybe each one of us doesn’t struggle with mental illness, statistically speaking, we all know at least one person who does. We often can’t see it and don’t always foster the best environments for our struggles and insecurities to be voiced. And so when the problem is invisible and silenced it is easy to believe that these are issues that don’t apply to us or the people we love.
In the past year I have had more people than I could have ever imagined come to me to talk about my story or to share their own. I have had these conversations while in trendy restaurants out to brunch and in fraternity house bathrooms and with people I have known for years and with people I had met only seconds before. In sharing my own story, I have been invited into so many others and that is a privilege I feel so lucky to have – it has been a reminder that we are not alone and that we are all more loved than maybe we will ever know. In each of these conversations I have been reminded that this dialogue is so important – that talking about what makes us hurt, what makes us feel stuck literally saves lives.
But sometimes sharing the parts of us that feel broken or the secrets we’ve held onto for years just isn’t possible for us, or at least it doesn’t feel possible for us right now. And I don’t think that we should have to spill our entire life story in order to see and believe that there is a community around us that supports us. Every single one of us has felt stuck at some point. It is a part of the human experience to feel lost and confused. And we need to start publicly acknowledging that.
I have two hopes in publishing this article. The first is that I can start to escape the worry that comes when I want to write an article on mental health but fear that it won’t be a popular post or that it won’t seem interesting to enough people. The point of this blog was always to have a space to talk about anything I want and I hope to continue to push myself to do that. The second is that we all stop pretending that we aren’t connected. We are all connected to each other, all of our lives intersect, and yet we walk around pretending like our problems are unique to us and that no one else ever feels stuck like we do. I know that it is not just me that feels this way and I know that it’s not just you either. I know that while specific circumstances vary, that the feeling of being stuck, of being lonely, of being confused, of being lost, or of being broken are feelings we all have. And I hope that we all start trusting the communities around us to help us feel less alone.