The Struggle, Afraid & Untold
Why is this struggle so often hidden, kept under lock and key like a dirty secret? How have we, as a society, created such stigmatization around mental health? These are sometimes unspoken questions (although maybe whispered in our heads). A great silence surrounds the subject. People, shying away from talking about it. Mental health stigma. That’s what it comes down to, right? But can it even be conquered? You bet it can! And I think the key lies in sharing our own personal stories.
Breaking that Mighty Silence – Personal Stories as the Key
I remember that first time, as a psychologist, when I shared my own story of struggling with anxiety. That moment of relief in the face of my clients. The room seemed to fill up with an invisible, reassuring warmth. A connection was formed; a bridge that had been previously missing.
Now, don’t get me wrong – the human connection is, undoubtedly, an essential part of any healing process. But these personal stories, they bring a certain power to the table. A power that’s often overlooked or dismissed. The power to break those walls we’ve built around mental health, all those unspoken rules of secrecy.
Metaphorical Barrier and the Conversational Language of Mental Health
We build these walls, like architects of our own domain, constructing a barrier between our “normal” selves and the part of us struggling with mental health issues. Lazily tossing bricks over our shoulders, not realizing the height, the sheer size of what we’ve created.
But sometimes we have to ask ourselves: is there even such a thing as “normal”? Or is it just a comfortable oversimplification, a snug blanket we wrap around ourselves? And in that case, what does it mean to admit to our problems, to our quirks, to our struggles?
Well, my friends, I think it’s about embracing vulnerability, accepting that imperfection and realizing that we’re all human. And, believe it or not, that’s where language comes in. Language, the tool we use to bring down those walls or, at the very least, display a crack or two.
“I Got Your Back” – The Flawless Waterfall of Empathy
I once had a client struggling with depression who was adamant about keeping it all quiet, bottled up inside, away from the prying eyes of others (how many of us have heard this before, right?). But as we went through our sessions together, over time, a change occurred. A shared understanding began to flourish, and the client started talking about their experience using similes and metaphors, delving into the figurative language realm. The word “depression” felt like a waterfall of bleakness, washing over them in a suffocating, overwhelming cascade. As they spoke, the power of those words became palpable – and boy, it was transformative.
Their family, friends, all those around them started to see the true human, the genuine person hidden beneath the swirling mist, past the waterfall of depression. There was an almost instant reassurance, an acknowledgement of support: “We got your back”. That kind of understanding? It’s priceless. And what’s more, it plants the seed for empathy to blossom.
Realizing We’re Not Alone – The Empowering Effect of Shared Struggles
Stories have always been powerful. They’ve woven their way through the tapestry of humanity, shaping history, reshaping the future. A single story, tossed out into the abyss, can transform lives. But when it comes to mental health, it’s about the shared stories.
Imagine the strength of water droplets, joining together to form a torrential river – this is the essence of those shared stories. It’s about realizing that we are, indeed, not alone in our struggles. That other human beings share our fight, and that our combined voices – expressed through our stories – can erode that mountain of stigma we’ve built around mental health.
A Call to Arms, to Voices – Channeling the Power of Our Stories
See that wall, that towering, impenetrable wall of stigma? Let’s take it down together. Tear it down brick by brick. Gently, with compassion, or loudly, with proud voices raised in unison. And let us consider the incredible power our stories possess, and how we can use that power to help not just ourselves, but also others who are suffering in silence.
So I urge you, as someone who has stood on both sides of the struggle, share your stories. Speak of your triumphs, your tribulations, your heartache and your healing. Be vulnerable, be compassionate, be human. Together, we can not only combat mental health stigma, but create a world in which empathy, understanding and support are the norm, and the struggle is no longer unspoken.
Elijah Carter Thompson, Psychologist at Cure of Mind