I wasn’t always the happy go lucky girl I am today. Growing up, most of what others knew of me was a facade. I would wake up with the weight of the world on my shoulders, pull up my big girl pants, and go out and face the day. On the surface, there were no red flags that would make someone think, “Hey, that girl is dealing with some serious shit.” In fact, I’d be the one you’d pick out of a crowd that seemingly had it all together. That’s the thing about mental health, it comes in all shapes and sizes. The happy, the sad, the A+ student, the football player, the female, the male… Everyone is vulnerable.

There’s no such thing as a mental health check up, but there should be.

We take care of our physical health, our dental health, our gynecological health… why is it so hard to take care of our mental health? I’ll tell you why. Because sometimes, we don’t even know that there’s a problem. Sometimes, we’re so deep within our own issues that we become blind to life outside of them. Sometimes, the mental health issues we’re dealing with aren’t even our own. We’re just experiencing the trickle down effect of living with someone who is depressed. Or has a problem with substance abuse. Or has a personality disorder. But we don’t feel like we can claim these problems as our own, so we sweep them under the rug and keep living surviving.

Other times, we’re fully aware that we’re not living a mentally sound life. It’s been said that awareness is therapy, but awareness alone is not enough. Sometimes awareness is just enough to scare the shit out of us. We’re aware that there’s a problem, but do not think that there is a solution. So we turn to drugs. Or self harm. Sometimes, when we want to escape the mental hell we’re living in, we pour all of ourselves into something that we love. Some people find solace in expression, so they turn to art. Or dance. Or music. After the release of “One More Light”, Chester Bennington said in an interview, “If it weren’t for music, I’d be dead. One hundred percent.”

I can’t tell you what the answer is, because each person has to find it within themselves. What I will tell you, though, is this is impossible to do on your own. Asking for help isn’t as easy as it seems. You may feel embarrassed or vulnerable. You may think your problem is way too big, and nobody could ever understand. You may think that no matter what you do, nothing will change. But I’d like to slap that sort of thinking out of your mind.

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If you take one thing out of this post, let it be this: you are not alone. There is so much living out there to be done, don’t spend your time on this earth trapped in a mental prison. You deserve so much more than that. There are so many people out there ready to help you, you just have to take that first step.

I spent some of the toughest days of my childhood listening to Linkin Park. Their music made me feel like I was not alone. Like I wasn’t the only one who could experience such anger. Such disappointment. Such raw emotion. Looking back, it makes me realize that Chester Bennington had to have put up one hell of a fight. My heart is truly saddened to hear the news of his death, but it saddens me even more to think of the internal struggle that he carried with him for 41 years.

After Chris Cornell’s suicide, Chester Bennington said, “I pray that you find peace in the next life.” I wish the same for you, Chester.

Things aren’t the way they were before
You wouldn’t even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me in the end.

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