A lot of us have turned to lifting as a way to manage ourselves mentally. I don’t know how you can exist socially within this community and not acknowledge this. Further, I don’t know why people struggle so much with addressing their own emotions or at least addressing the emotions of those around them, particularly the emotions of those for whom they ostensibly hold some level of affection.
Our society appears to have a default setting that is to not acknowledge the existence of emotional health at all costs until someone’s emotional health has become so poor that those around them cannot help but do so. This is the standard. This is the status quo. The way people react to discussion of mental health looks very close to the discomfort and fear with which people have reacted to such concepts as witchcraft in past centuries. I watch and experience and listen to the experiences of this particular variety of cultural dysfunction on a daily basis.
And it is at this point in my life that I find the continued fear, minimization, and continued attempts to erase emotional life akin to denying the earth is a sphere. If you blow through life avoiding your own emotions and denying the expression and existence thereof in others around you, you are a flat-earther variant. You cannot be a fully functioning adult human being if you do not take responsibility for your own emotional existence. To be a “good person,” dare I suggest that you must further take responsibility for how you impact others emotionally in addition to your own self-management. So you are kind when possible. You are aware of what you put out into the world, and I mean that as broadly as it sounds. This is not a small task. It is enormously taxing and takes constant self-awareness.
People who are capable of constant self-awareness are subsequently more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a culture that is absolutely glutted with all forms of media, information, and exchange. Today alone I have seen at least three different sets of statistics pointing towards rising suicide rates over the span of recent decades. I do not think I am off-base in suggesting that today we are as isolated emotionally as ever in a world where we are as superficially connected as ever. This is not a new or original concern in the information age, but it is one that it is crucial we continue to recognize and mine.
It is crucial because while many of us are “out there” ostensibly showing ourselves to the world, such candid content is misleading. I know it is misleading because I have posted one way and felt another. I have tried to be as candid and as honest as possible but I have failed repeatedly. I do not feel I have lied, but I certainly have not divulged as deeply or as much as I could.I have tried to be open about when I am not okay, as much as I can, when I am able to put my pain out there. I can do more, I can face my own shit more, and I can do so in front of others with no shame more. I promise it, and I promise I will work on it and improve what I do in this regard because I believe that in doing so, in a small way I am countering an onslaught of human-generated content that is often swiss-cheesed by omitted struggle and pain and fear.
Do not judge mental health by what someone says, what someone creates. Do not appraise emotional stability based on what you see and read. Do. Not. I have been suicidal and no one would ever have guessed as much had they just encountered my instagram account. Indeed, this has been the case more than once in the past two years. I have sat in my car and wondered if I should have myself committed to save myself from myself. I have lived in the prison of a mind I’m not sure I should always trust. I know I am not alone. I will say this again, and more: I know I am not alone, and some of the most internally beautiful people I have met have been in the same place I have just described.
We have no trouble celebrating people overcoming obstacle. You see this in the way we trill over a war hero’s feats or the manner in which someone with great physical disability found a way to perform some activity that would be performed without thought by an able-bodied person. And yet, we stop short of really digging into the dark places, the doubt, the depression, the stagnation, the long waiting periods, the nights spent lying on the floor motionless or the mornings where the act of tooth-brushing is closer to pulling one’s own teeth because it means doing another day, facing the mind during a period that seems insurmountable and ugly and horribly friendless. The mind is not always a friend to people who have achieved what look like great successes or made beautiful things.
I do not have any more to offer than anyone else. I often think I have much less. But I am very, very willing to say what I just said. I am willing to talk about it, to post about it, to yell about it when others prefer only whispered conversations. I will continue. And I will find beauty in the speech of anyone else willing to do the same thing.