We Don’t Talk Enough About Mental Health.

RFTaranOhioBackyardI’m an imperfect human being. Over the years I have had to remind myself of that when I might have been being too tough on myself, too arrogant, or too demanding of others. It’s a way of keeping myself real, and maybe I do it too much or too little at the right and wrong times. I’m an imperfect human being. We’ve covered that.

One of the friends I checked on today – Sunday, I check on friends – is going through a rough patch and mostly I read what she had to write. It seemed she was being very hard on herself, something I know about, and I asked her to consider this quote:

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden.

It’s a good quote to throw around in your head if you’re unfamiliar with it. Personally, I survived most of my life by being harder on myself than people in authority were. I’m not recommending it, people who get yelled at more frequently seem to be happier for some peculiar reason. This is meant to be lighthearted, work with me here.

I only have my experience to work with, and again, I’m an imperfect human being and when it comes to these sort of things, I happily point people toward where they can get help instead of attempting it myself and possibly making matters worse. Yet there is a stigma with going to talk with someone who can be objective about us, because as friends we are biased.

There are so many stigmas about mental health services that admittedly I haven’t gone myself until fairly recently. It wasn’t anything dramatic, I simply finally decided it was time because it was possible I was having issues and I needed someone objective. For me, I was fortunate and found someone by hopping on Google Maps and searching for a psychologist. It can be more complicated with health insurance, but I lucked out.

We all have blind spots. For example, a guy I know seemed like a real jerk after a few drinks. I cut ties quietly, and one of his female friends mentioned, “I don’t know why he’s like that. It’s as if he’s bipolar when he drinks”, and it dawned on me that I almost always associated women with being bipolar but not men. I mentioned this to my psychologist, and she pointed out some interesting facts: Women are more likely to avail themselves of mental health services, and that women are more commonly diagnosed with the condition.

That gets to we guys. A lot of reels I have been seeing on Facebook recently, relate to we men not having people to talk to. Dave Chapelle went as far as to say that only women, children and dogs get unconditional love. There are expectations of men. I don’t know how true it is, but it resonates with my world experience between friends and my own personal experience. Maybe this is a factor of being of Generation X, maybe it’s a factor of all the workplace stuff that was a minefield during my days in offices, and maybe part of it is a bit of culture that needs to change.

I don’t know.

I do know that there shouldn’t be a stigma related to getting help, asking for help, or going to see a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Personally, I’ve found it valuable, not because I’m a raving lunatic – I am not – but because it allows me to see a reflection of myself through an objective mirror rather than the warped mirrors of life. I have found it helps me keep grounded.

Did I drag my feet getting to see a psychologist? Yes. To be fair, maybe I wasn’t ready yet. Maybe you’re not ready yet. Maybe your friend is not ready yet.

But maybe they need to know it’s perfectly fine to go talk to someone professionally, who isn’t going to judge you based on a personal relationship. Maybe it’s easier to climb the mountain than to carry it.

4 thoughts on “We Don’t Talk Enough About Mental Health.

  1. This is such an important message. There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma in seeking help for mental health. It’s important to take care of ourselves and seek help when we need it. Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience.


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