You are awesome, you are loved and you matter. Despite what your own narrative or experiences tell you contrary to that, you are. It is easy to get mired deep into the darkness, we’re living in a world that is challenging for many and it is not always obvious to see people who are struggling. They look just like you and me, they look successful, they can be beautiful, they can be inspiring and they can be dying inside and we would have no idea. There is so much pressure to do, to be; successful, rich, happy, productive and normal. What are those things at the end of the day, we all measure them differently and we are all chasing seemingly similar things but we are all unique so how can one yard stick work for everyone? So many of us cope to get through each day leading to dependencies on alcohol, drugs and even one another till ultimately for some the pressure mounts to suicide and then the questions pour in. No one saw it coming, they were so successful, they were so happy, it’s such a shame and it really is.
The pressure starts early, we’re programmed as kids to be more, to get a good career and be productive. We’re bombarded with media depicting how awesome it is to be wealthy, to be someone. We’re shown examples of what we should be, what is successful, what is normal, what is happy and often that visage is not realistic. The comparisons come with the programming, looking at ourselves and looking at others and seeing what is missing, what is different, what more do they have and what little do you or vise versa. This can be healthy sometimes to drives us to attain things we want and strive to be a better person. More often than not it feeds the demons and colors your narrative, it reinforces the negative thoughts and feelings that you have created or maybe have been gifted. Social media is a great example of this, I’ve heard from so many people they need to check out of it because comparing themselves to others on social media makes them feel awful. Like they are failing and not good enough, they aren’t beautiful enough, rich enough, a good enough parent, successful enough. It’s bullshit.
You are enough, you are beautiful, you are loved, you are doing your best and you matter!
Mental health is important and we need to talk about it more in an open and honest way. This is not something that affects just some of us, it affects all of us whether we talk about it or not. There has been some progress and discussion but we need more, once a year for Bell Let’s Talk isn’t enough (For non Canadian readers once a year Bell Canada sponsors a mental health day and donates money towards mental health initiatives). We need to smash the stigma so we can freely share where we are and how we are so we can get help without fear how the admission of our struggle will negatively affect us. It’s hard enough to be struggling with these feelings, but to be fearful and ashamed of them is a fucking tragedy.
I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for as long as I can remember and felt ashamed of that for most of my life. I tried anti-depressants with mixed (mostly awful) experiences, I spent a massive part of my youth and young adult life drinking to drown the thoughts. Then I became addicted to work, I freaked out about the time I had wasted numbing the feelings and overcompensated by obsessing on building a career. The problem with running and hiding is that there are only so many places to run to and hide in. I found a career and became successful, I met a lovely woman to build a family with and we bought a house (without a white picket fence, one of our rentals had one though) on paper everything was achieved. That is the formula we are taught as kids career+family=happy but I wasn’t. I ran away on planes and I hid at work and in return I received money which allowed the circus to perpetuate for another cycle. My relationship deteriorated so anti-anxiety meds were added to the tool kit to get through my time at home. I learned how to containerize my feelings so I could keep it together, this felt important as I didn’t want my company or my colleagues to know I was hanging on by a thread because I needed the job to pay for the life I had built. So Monday - Friday during working hours and sometimes on weekends I held onto my shit to get through every day and look like I was a put together normal person and not about to burst into a million pieces, I was terrified to talk to anyone about how I was actually feeling. I would talk to partner but not tell her everything, same with physicians, we tried some counselling but also it wasn’t helpful at that time. I was too scared to share how I really felt and where I really was.
Honesty will set you free!
I do my best to be a good honest person, I don’t like to lie to people. Unfortunately I’ve spent a big part of my life living a lie. It wasn’t easy to tell the truth, it felt like it would destroy everything. Looking back that was a ridiculous thought because of the lie everything was ruined already, everything but the lie and the narrative it constructed that I had accepted as reality. By the time I learned to be honest with myself, all of the things I was worried about destroying were already in shambles. My relationship had failed, my health was questionable and I couldn’t effectively do my work. I asked for help and I was reluctant at first, for months I didn’t really give my counsellor anything to work with. I would just bitch and moan about what was making me unhappy. Then one day she confronted me in a session and plainly asked, do I want help or do I just want to complain because either way she would gladly take my money but the choice to be better was mine. I of course wanted to be better, it was scary but I was honest with her for the first time and we started to make progress. The years talking with her made a massive impact and today I am in a much better place because I stopped living a lie.
It’s OK to not be OK!
Happiness isn’t a destination or a level that we unlock if we capture enough achievements that suddenly we just live forever in this amazing blissful state. Happiness is everywhere if we want it, it’s moments with people who matter to us, it’s looking over to see something beautiful that makes us smile and feel like time slows for a moment, it’s your favorite song, or smell or hell anything that gives you a good feel. I see happy everywhere, a dog smiling, someone diving into a juicy burger, the way the light from sky scrapers reflects onto the brick buildings while I walk downtown, sharing time with people I love, strangers hugging or laughing as I wander different places or certain music. The world is amazing, but it is also awful. There are so many terrible things happening, locally, nationally and globally. It’s hard to not let it drag us down. As much as it is important to be happy, I feel it’s equally important to be sad. It gives us perspective, it help us appreciate the good, balance is important. If all we experienced we’re happy things we would eventually become indifferent and would no longer appreciate them, just as if all we had were sad things happen we would likely stop believing that there was any good to be had. It is ok to feel like you are not OK, but it’s not ok to think you are alone. That is probably the biggest lie we tell ourselves, there is always someone out there who cares about you and will listen and be there for you. If you feel like you have no one and you’re struggling then contact me, send a message to me on the contact page and we can talk turkey. I’ve lost too many good people because the struggle won. You matter and I love you.
If you are really struggling and need help please look at the contacts below.
The new Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS), by Crisis Services Canada, enables callers anywhere in Canada to access crisis support by phone, in French or English: toll-free 1-833-456-4566 Available 24/7
For numbers in your own province click here
For readers in the United States click here
For friends in the UK click here