May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I just wanted to give it a quick mention before the month ends, especially since it’s reported that 1/3 of Americans currently show signs of clinical anxiety and depression. My intimacy disorder makes sure that I’m quite intimate with those conditions (couldn't resist), so I’m pretty familiar with the trappings of depressed thinking: no one else feels this way, I don’t want to bother anyone, I don’t have anything positive to share, etc. Given current conditions, I’ve witnessed some of my friends become even more withdrawn from connecting because they ‘have nothing to talk about’ without being productive or there’s a feeling of needing to wait to feel better before it feels right to reconnect.
The stigma around the conversation and need for mental hygiene is so strange. We all brush our teeth, we assume others brush their teeth, and we don’t fear humiliation at the admission of needing a professional cleaning or even a root canal. Yet there’s a common tendency to hide when we’re feeling unwell mentally or emotionally, and there’s a fear around the need to take steps to address it. In our culture, we over-identify with our thoughts as a reflection of who we are. To be clear: you are NOT your thoughts. You are NOT your mind, just as you are not your teeth and you are not your leg. These are all parts of your being and they must all be looked after and tended to with care. Sometimes that tending is the equivalent of daily toothbrushing and other times the tending is the equivalent of being prescribed a root canal...you know what, not much is as bad as a root canal, it's more like being prescribed to wear a retainer. So whatever you might need right now, whether it’s daily soothing affirmations or a medical consultation, please proceed with pride at the fact that you are taking care of yourself. If it feels safe, call a friend to talk about it. Right now, chances are if you reach out to 3 people, at least 1 of them will relate and would probably feel better to know they're not alone.
By the way, if you’re wondering what you could possibly be if you are not your thoughts, you are loving awareness. You are love. That is all. It is everything. The rest is just decoration.