Day by day, week by week, many of us don’t realize the physical and emotional toll that our busy, stressful lives take on us. We’re presented with a multitude of opportunities at hand, and we are inclined to take on every single one. None of us want to let the chance to do something amazing slip by us, but often times, we cost ourselves more than we think.
Our society stretches us so thin that many of us snap before we make it out. Myself, my friends, and my classmates can all speak to the fact that most of us have given up our health to fall in place with societal norms: we lose sleep, skip dinner, and suppress many of our emotions in order to plow ahead with our homework, extracurriculars, and sports. I’m not saying that we don’t love our classes or sports or clubs, but rather, we overwhelm ourselves with too many rather than focusing on our one or two passions because we know that for the future, an “ideal resume” is what we need. For college or for a job, it always matters how much we did and what we did with it. The competitive future that lies ahead for us scares us and stops us from slowing down. We push away our friends and family in order to keep moving.
Essentially, we break ourselves because of what society preaches. In doing so, we ignore our mental and physical health, thinking a disorder such as anxiety or depression will slow us down, making us look inferior in society.
I am fortunate to go to a school that has an entire week, this past one, dedicated for Mental Health Initiative. Throughout the week, we had events to destress, educate, and help us understand just how imperative our mental health is.
I struggle with perfectionism. I know friends who have depression. I have classmates that suffer with anxiety. Each of us is hiding something, or knows of someone who is, but rarely do we talk about it out loud. Thankfully, this one week allows us to. We feel more open and ready to discuss our problems. We feel as though our voice will be heard, and it will be answered. We will not be frowned upon by others.
Unfortunately, while this past week everyone has seemed to understand the importance of mental health, every other week, we forget. We stop talking about how we feel because we don’t want anyone to think of us as incompetent or problematic. We silence our voices for another 51 weeks until this week comes around again. It’s not anyone’s fault either; the school, staff, and students are all still welcoming, but the stigma is not gone.
The stigma that exists in all of society, far beyond my school, remains in place, every week. Mental health is important. It deserves our undivided attention, yet in most cases, it comes as a last priority.
Even for those who do choose to speak out about mental health often remain stuck, as the adults and friends in their lives don’t know how to help them. We, as a society, are not educated on mental health. We do not know how to help ourselves, nor do we know how to help others.
We continue to break ourselves, letting our mental health deteriorate, telling ourselves, “This is how society is.” We soldier on with a smile on our face and our emotions buried deep beneath our skin.
None of us are alone in the struggle for mental health. We do not need to live in fear. No one says that if we break ourselves now, we will magically heal in the future, so please, let’s not break. Don’t let the stigma of mental health keep you from healing. Speak up, speak out. Find someone who will understand because I guarantee there are many of us surrounding you, all of us silencing ourselves just like you. Let us all take a step forward, breathe, and use our voices. Let us heal.