Learn to love yourself: International Mental Health Day

Good morning to all my beautiful-appreciative-and-supportive readers!

Before I begin today’s blog post, I just want to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading and liking my posts. It only takes encouraging readers for a writer to succeed, and I’m immensely grateful for all the feedback I have been receiving over the last week. Thank you so much.

Today is the International Mental Health Day, and given that I am a psychologist myself, I would like to share my growing concerns about the lack of importance given to mental and emotional health.

Picture this: It’s 10 AM in the morning, and you are lying in bed unable to wake up because of the exhausting amount of pain you have in your body. Your back and head seem to be perspiring, and you feel nauseous. You call for your mother to come check on you, because you are fairly certain you have caught the flu. Immediately, you mother asks you to change, she brings out the car and rushes you to the doctor. Your medication is diligently monitored, and if you fail to take your meds regularly, you’re sure to receive an earful.

Let me help you imagine one more scenario. It’s 10 AM in the morning, and you are lying in bed unable to wake up because of the exhaustion you are experiencing. There is a dull heaviness that seems to have numbed your thoughts, and there is nothing exciting anymore that is compelling you to wake up. When you manage to get out of bed by noon, you stay far away from the food because over the last week, you have lost your appetite. There are text messages on your phone from concerned colleagues, wondering why you have not gone to work all week. Suddenly, your mother drops by, and notices these new developments in your personality. Her instant reaction is one of being troubled for her child, but then she simply puts her hand on your shoulder, and says, “It’s just a phase… it will pass”. And then, she walks away from her child defeated.

I have asked myself this question several times over the last few years during the course of my psychology study: Why do we treat physical health so differently than we treat mental and emotional health? Why don’t parents force their children to see counselors, therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists when they notice signs of mental trouble? Why are we so adamant to reject the possibility that mental health is perhaps way more important than even physical health? That an emotional hurdle is harder than the most chronic of physical illness, that it grows like a cancer inside your heart and mind, and consumes you entirely until there is nothing left inside to kill.

In the times that we live in, we are constantly surrounded by narcissists on social media, showing off how fancy and happy their lives are. We are so in tune with our news feeds, that without even realizing, we compare every aspect of our lives with that of others. And when we can’t keep up, or find small spots where we are not as happy, or pretty, or smart, or accomplished as others, we begin to feel a sense of defeat and uselessness. And this is all normal for our generation, because we document our entire lives on the internet and seek gratification from others in return. I cannot say whether this is good or bad, but I know that this is what evolution looks like, and these are the ramifications of it.

I have had my fair share of emotional health issues; I have seen the darkest hour of the human heart, and I have walked in an abyss of pain. Even today, there are those days where I can see it all linger behind the cracks and the holes, waiting to consume me once again. But over the years, I have built that strength to face that dementor in my heart and drive it back into the darkness. I have made so much space in my heart for love, that there is no space for doubt to creep in.

I urge and sincerely request all my readers to understand just how important mental health is. Let us all sit down and talk to our families and friends and educate one another. Let us all break away from the bounds of stigma and taboo, and let us all stop worrying about what other people are going to say! It is your own life that may be falling apart, and those other people talking are not going to come pick up the pieces!

Please understand that it is ok to break, and to break down. It is ok to cry. It is ok grieve. It is ok to be angry and to feel helpless. But it is not ok to bottle up everything inside because you are afraid of what names people will call you. Make room for yourself in your own heart… do for yourself what you so happily do for others. Love yourself, and comfort yourself, and be your own best friend.

On this International Mental Health Day, lets all promise ourselves, that just how we look after our bodies by investing in expensive diets and foods and gym memberships, lets also invest in our happiness and mental and emotional well being. Love yourself, and when the going gets tough, be courageous enough to find a professional who can help you heal and give you strength. You do not have to suffer alone.

Smile, because it always does get better, I promise.

Lots and lots of love,

P.

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