All my life I have been an advocate for emotional expression. My motto has always been, why not talk about issues that are affecting you, because you never know who else around you is going through something similar. This motto started in high school and continued throughout my post-secondary schooling and remains with me now into my career.
I was often told as a teen to “get over” issues. I would try my hardest to be strong, to get over something, but the same old feelings crept back into my brain, so I knew that it was not a simple as of getting over something; I learned that I had to get through the issue. Many people suppress their feelings and that can lead to anger, resentment, depression, anxiety, etc etc… What I have learned is that it is much more healthy to allow yourself to go through the motions of experiencing and working through an issue (or emotion). And yes, this may bring on feelings that are uncomfortable. But the discomfort will subside. It was through exploring these kind of feelings helped me to understand why I was experiencing them and provided clarity as to what was really going on inside my head and heart. I learned that self-reflection is vital, for without it, we truly never know what or why we are feeling a certain way.
I also learned that we are truly never alone. We may all be unique individuals, but we experience many of the same issues. How we deal with our issues can greatly affect our quality of life, as well as the lives of those around us. In my opinion, there is no point in keeping absolutely everything private. We are social creatures. We crave expression. We are not meant to experience trials and tribulations alone. This is why I am a HUGE supporter of Bell’s annual “Let’s Talk” mental health awareness campaign. While the initiative only comes around once a year, at least something is being done to a) generate discussion about mental health b) fundraise for non-profiting mental health organizations and c) offer support for people with less than ideal mental health.
I firmly believe that conversations about mental health can lead to better communication, better comprehension and better acceptance of others, and ourselves. Knowing that there are other people out there who feel similar is sometimes enough to feel supported. Sometimes of course, more support is needed and should absolutely be sought. One thing I know for certain is that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay. Knowing where you are in the present moment and understanding your feelings is the first step to helping yourself.
Life is far too short to be sad on a daily basis. So reflect on what feelings you are experiencing and find out what is causing them. Talk to a friend or a professional if you can’t or don’t want to cope alone. And please, remember to be kind and patient to people who open up to you. It may be the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do.