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Let's Talk Obstacles to Telling the Truth

Why is it so difficult to seek help? Why is it so awkward to have that conversation with people where you must tell them you are struggling with your mental health? Why does it feel like a deep, dark confession rather than simply your story? And why do we allow all of this to silence us from the truth?

In what I have observed, experienced, and read, the answer to the latter question is simply fear. But fear of what?

1. Fear of Judgment

In a society which operates on rigid standards, expectations, and close-minded perceptions, its hard to even imagine that your struggles will not somehow yield the judgement of your peers. Although there are numerous mental health campaigns encouraging people to seek help, or telling them that their experience is valid, there is also a severe lack of people who actually act on these ideas. And because we see so little evidence that people will actually respond well to conversation regarding depression, anxiety, suicide, or other mental illness, the fear only intensifies.

No one should feel as though the negative connotation around medication, therapy, or reality of mental illness is going to mean that they personally will be judged. It seems, on paper, cruel to judge someone for the means in which they seek help or for the things that they seek help from. But, whether we individually mean it or not, we do create this expectation of judgement.

Think of all the people in your school who joke about "being depressed." Think about all the people who say they don't believe in using medication for anxiety or depression - those that believe people should just work through it. Think of all the jokes behind therapy, and the beliefs people have around the type of people who use it. Think of all the stereotypes we have in our head of what a mentally ill person looks like - and think of how that image completely misaligns with the millions who do not fit that image, yet fear they will be regarded as so.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of the spiral that people go through before even attempting to seek help, guidance, or support. It becomes isolating to believe that seeking help will mean judgment, because people would prefer to struggle on their own than be wrongfully labeled or interpreted by their peers.

2. Fear of Change

Then, comes the fear of people's perceptions of you changing. Similar to judgement, people, even if they are not meaning to, often think differently of people once they learn of any of a person's mental "issues." This might mean starting to keep your distance from someone upon hearing about their struggles. This might mean being treated differently beyond just extra care or thoughtfulness. That is, to be perceived weaker and therefore no longer a functioning human being who wishes for normalcy.

These hypothetical changes prevent people from speaking their truth, because most people would like to maintain some consistency in their lives, or an escape from their internal battles. But, when it becomes evident that they will be treated significantly differently, belittled, outcasted, or misunderstood, then what is there to motivate them to seek assistance? What is there that seems appealing about the daunting likelihood of misunderstanding or ill-executed responses from uneducated people.

3. Fear of Being Let Down

Going along with both of these fears, is ultimately the fear that these conversations will not yield the results that they are after. That is, if you are so overwhelmed by sadness, darkness, anxiety, grief, unexplainable thoughts, or any other mental disturbance, one of the only hopes people have is to get support from the people they choose to tell. In a mind that feels overwhelmed and uncontrollable, one of the only possibilities of improvement lies in the hands of the help you can get from other people. But, what if, when you finally decide to have a conversation with someone about your experience, you are tragically let down by their response? Where does the hope go? Where do you even go from there?

This response could come from anybody. Whether it is the fear that your friends will judge or misunderstand; whether it is your doctor who invalidates your struggle; whether it is a family that refuses to help; or whether it someone trusted that ends up betraying that trust - the possibility of let down is all the same. And that possibility all comes down to the lack of proper education about mental illness in our world, the lack of empathy promoted by our human flaws, and the lack of attainable resources for the average person. This stigma that society "attempts" to break remains despite how many instagram posts or insincere promises of understanding from our peers we may receive.


We, however, should not have to fear any of these things. But we do. And for that I fear not the individual concerns, but I fear the world that has promoted them. I fear the path society is taking, in that our motives are insincere when we tell people to seek help. I fear the way that our educational system is full of internal contradictions on the matter of mental health. And I fear us, alone, as humans who are so impressionable by the media and the standards of it, that we allow our actions to reflect not our care for one other, but our desire to avoid uncomfortable subjects.

I urge everyone, still, to seek help, even if it is just a simple conversation to let out .001% of the thoughts in your mind. But it is hard, because I know the majority of people will have to then deal with the repercussions of our world which is currently ill-suited to respond to such conversations. But any possibility of hurt is not enough to outweigh the possibility of deteriorating in the pain of your own mind indefinitely. So have the uncomforatble conversation. Because the more we do have, the more I hope people will learn to change.

Again, its the talking that changes. Even when its hard. It changes things for you, others, and the state of society on a whole.

Start talking. Keep talking. And promote others doing the same.


Taylor Hay :))


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