In last week’s blog I wanted to disrupt the image that many people have of what those dealing with mental illness look like by sharing my own personal challenges navigating depression.
It’s been an interesting week observing how the stigma around mental illness is still so strong, my own included.
I’ve talked with many folk this last week that have openly and kindly shared how brave they think I am for sharing, I have had friends and colleagues share how proud they are of me taking the pro-active steps towards getting the support I felt I needed. I’ve had beautiful friends that have very kindly shared that they had no idea, and that their own image of what depression looked like didn’t look like someone like me.
I’ve had some friends share that they weren’t sure about what the right thing to say is but that they wanted me to know I am loved all the same, and that they would be there for me in whatever capacity I needed.
I’ve had many others that have said nothing, no acknowledgement, no words of support or expressions of thoughts - I know my post has been read by several hundred people but the vast majority will stay silent. Some will recognise my words in their own lives and others will see them and just be grateful that they are mentally well.
There will also be many that will be uncomfortable with what’s being shared, I notice it a lot on social media - the avoidance of comments or likes on posts that many will personally resonate with but perhaps don’t want to acknowledge. Much of the human population is still afflicted with the fear of judgment from others and will spend most of their time worrying about what people think of them even with something simple like the expression of a ‘like’ or a comment on a post.
I get it, it can be scary.
I’m also someone that finds myself wondering, at times, what people think of me - it takes a lot out of me at times to keep showing up every single week and continue writing this blog - I’ve been doing it for nearly two years. I have my own anxieties too about sharing, and I wonder sometimes what the world around me is going to do to me with their judgements. But what I’ve learned to apply to my own life, especially as I get older and wiser, are the words from Dr Seuss - “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.
One thing I know, is that the people that will change this world for the better are those that put themselves on the line for a worthy cause. Those that are brave, those that speak up and share with the hope of helping others know they are not alone. Those that are willing to walk along the edges and not with the masses in the middle.
These people often feel like a lone voice, at least until the first follower and it certainly takes a brave first follower to show up in support.
What I know for sure is that it is love not judgment that will heal our world. So if you are one of the silent observers, if you are fearing what others think of you, if you are one of those judging others or fearing judgement yourself - take sometime to consider how you might be able to help someone just by leaning in and showing empathy for their journey.
I know it’s not always easy to know what the right thing to say is, and that’s ok, but just know the smallest of gestures can make a huge difference.
Through my own journey I’ve reflected on how I’ve sometimes hesitated on commenting or liking a post where people have been really vulnerable but now having felt the impact of those that have leaned in for me, I know how much it means to show someone you see them, hear them and understand them.
It doesn’t require much, just a little love without any judgement.