This Is Why You Can't Ignore Mental Health
Mental Health is Always There
Frequently, when people talk about mental health, they talk about it like it’s a temporary problem, like it’s something to get over and be done with.
But that’s not how I see it. I think about it differently.
For me, mental health is always there. Let me explain.
If I take the time to call a friend, I prepare for the call in a certain mental state. I may have just had a great conversation with someone else, and I head into the phone call in a delightful head space.
But on the other end of the line, for my friend who is receiving my call, she may have just had a big fight with her partner. I don’t know. But I’ll find out when the call connects and we start talking.
If she did have a big fight with her partner, the emotions and energy that she brings to the call will impact me. It’s inevitable, whether I attempt to ward off her feelings or not. They will impact me in some way, and they will alter my mental health.
As a result, my posture might subtly change. I might tense up and shift in my seat. Certain thoughts will run through my mind, and those thoughts will trigger other thoughts of situations I had no intention of thinking about just moments prior.
This is the social aspect of mental health. What others share with me affects me. The same applies in your case.
Because mental health is not simply a bird passing overhead moving in and out of view. If we practice meditation, we can experience thoughts this way, but mental health — the gritty, ever-present reality that it is — never fully leaves us. It’s a program running in the background, and it’s our present experience running in the foreground.
And that’s why it’s so important to talk about it every day.
But Why Can’t I Ignore Mental Health?
This is what happens if you try to ignore your mental health.
It would be like trying to ignore your body. Can you do that?
You can try, but it actually tends to make things worse. The more you try to ignore any physical pain you’re in, the more the pain intensifies. It’s this weird thing that your body and brain do to you.
For instance, I can say to you, “Don’t think about your body!”
But, suddenly, you’re thinking about your body.
The same goes for anything. Just replace “body” with any other word — and you’re stuck thinking about something you never thought would enter your mind mere minutes ago.
This is why we can’t ignore our feelings.
When we bring them to awareness, we accept them. And when we accept them, they don’t rule our lives. Of course, this is easier said than done. Learning to manage mental health is a lifelong process.
But the one thing you cannot do is fully ignore it. It’s everywhere.
Mental health is in your relationships. It’s in your smile. It’s in the way you feel when you first get out of bed. Mental health is hard to describe, but you know it when you don’t have it.
And that’s why I do whatever I can to try to put words to the experience, to try to make the inaccessible more accessible.
Mental health is not just doom and gloom, although the media and Internet searches might make you feel that way. It’s something that, if harnessed correctly, can lead to great power and poise. I know this from experience, and it’s why I love sharing what I’ve learned.
Because without mental health, we are nothing.
But with it? We can be something bigger and better than what our puny, little brains make us out to be.
We can use our emotions and thoughts, our hopes and dreams, and our experiences and relationships for good. And we can connect with our unadorned stories and raw authenticity.
When you learn to appreciate your mental health, you teach others that mental health is not a source of shame — it’s a way of being.
It’s a fundamental piece of the puzzle that is our lives.