The Masterpiece
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The Masterpiece

The Conversation About Mental Health Needs To Stay Open

This is how we win for everyone

Photo by Tani Eisenstein on Unsplash

Hello. If you are reading this piece, you are the second reason I am writing it.

A few years ago, I visited a public mental health center for the first time. It was a cold Wednesday or Thursday. I was sitting on a small red worn-out couch. On another piece of furniture, with his legs under him, was a man, barely older than me.

His lips were open, revealing a big smile. And under the shadow of his eyes, he gave all the signs of someone delightful. If he could have raised a flag like a child play-pretending on a ship, I believe he would have. But, it was obvious from his movements that his mind was troubling him deeply. He looked distraught, itching to make tiny but constant movements with his body. Looking left and right, as if the troubling thoughts are on the left and looking at the right could ease him for a second.

Not much later, he got up and messed with his hair. The steps he was making were unstable. I understood he was trying to soothe himself. Sometimes the mind can be a challenging place.

His therapist came out of a room and I could tell, of all the troubles his mind carried, he cherished these interactions. He trusted this woman, his focus might be pained but it was set on her. With all his effort, anxiously and messy, he greeted her happily. He reminded me of a child that has been scared and does not understand why.

I wonder if he will ever know just how much he inspired me to see beyond myself. He was the strongest person in the room. And he is the first reason I am writing this piece.

The Confession

It is quite difficult to be vulnerable, it feels like I am wearing the wrong size of clothes. Too new, not quite right on me. But, my little story could be yours.

When I was a teenager, I had my first experience of trauma and therapy. Some personal struggles occurred in my environment and since I was still shaping myself, I changed and lost the healthy route for a while.

Because of the trauma, before and during healing, I was a melancholic teen. A very serious one. Pale signs of sadness around my face and uneven eyebrows. My lips were not turned up. They just were. I did not speak a lot and I did not demand the space for it.

Unfortunately, I had people in my circle that did not like that me. I loved and looked up to them. I wanted to wear the pretty pink lenses, too. It hurt to be looked at as if you reek sadness. It was not my fault. Unfortunately, I did not have their glasses. I had a heavy heart and I was doing my best.

Often, quite often, as often as my face appeared, I’d hear these words

Stop being ungrateful
Do something for yourself
If you smiled, people would want to be around
Don’t be off-putting
Nobody wants someone that looks miserable
Life. Is. Perfect.
You choose to be like this

I was not allowed to open up to them, let alone look sad. And I didn’t say a word. I learned to perform the perfect smile and pretend I am the most cheerful, explorative creature. For my smile, I got a nod of approval. I was approved. But when it fell for a second, I was told misery is a bad look. Be positive, eat a spoon of positivity. If there is anything else, it is your problem and you created it by being sad and negative.

I started having thoughts on top of thoughts.

If you love me, why would you lull me to silence with lavender tea? I love lavender and tea but I need to talk to you. My brain is not affected by the nice smell and my troubles are not leaving me. The lavender smell doesn’t stop me from wanting a hug and compassion. I did not get to connect with another human being. When would I be allowed to talk? Or was silence and nothingness so valuable?

The Liberation

Often I am writing about authenticity in emotional care. Whether it is in the form of a poem or a personal lesson. There is a true essence in taking care of yourself and having a chuckle now and then. I’m sure picking all the mango trees to have a mango smoothie at 5 am is not the new DBT therapy.

Eventually, growing older, I found my liberation. I went to therapy and gave myself the best thing I could have. A toolkit for a good life. Known as healthy coping mechanisms.

Thanks to my amazing therapist who I consider a lifesaver, I was given a safe space to talk about everything. I was one more individual that thought it will never get better and where will the hurt go. But, the hurt does go. I healed truly within a year and took out the thorns one by one. It is almost unreal the kind of change a person can do.

I ended up taking one big step back. And several little steps towards other directions. Different people. And I realized the world outside of the forced positivity bubble is tiny, and the rest of the world is vast and rich. I learned from others' different experiences because I let them speak about them.

I laugh when something is funny and I cry in front of friends when I am struggling. It is a privilege to have these relationships.

I love the walks in the sun and I do the simplest things for joy like pick up seashells and then put them in my plant. I cook with my loved ones. I read Beth O’ Leary before bed. And if it’s a bad week, I will tell those close to me I have fallen. Because it is a part of life.

Now, I’d say I am a big advocate for letting it out and working it out. All the talking in the world did help.

People need to not be put in a space alone. Because it will eat them from the inside. When you force someone to be quiet so that you talk about a perfect life while they sit there choking up in pain, you do not help them. You harm them.

I am all for self-love. Everyone is a protagonist in their lives and everyone carries responsibility for themselves. But, I don’t think we are here to live alone and behave as others will be our silent mirrors. I say something and someone else repeats it. What are we, frogs?

The Truth

There are many sayings in the world about the power of truth. The truth will set you free, all transforms under the light, things can only change when the truth touches them. And so on. It is undeniable, it is relieving, it is ugly and it is beautiful.

Think a little back, dig around your past, and you will find some examples.

Letting things out and loud is magnanimously beneficial for the entire nervous system. The stress emptying out from the gut after you finally talk to someone is no joke. All you have to do is unravel your tongue. But speaking up is challenging. Asking for help, admitting your state of not being okay is one of the hardest most courageous things.

Now, how do people with mental health disorders find the strength in them to seek someone that will understand them? Who will help us?

In the last decade, organizations and individuals have worked hard to remove the stigma of mental health struggles. They have managed to remove a notable portion of judgment and misinformation.

Literally, looking at the difference, the path for someone to ask for help has gotten bigger. We are not hidden in the mountain anymore, elves.

I have seen issues being brought to light. Articles are being written daily about the faces of different mental health issues. It is not embarrassing. It is not a terrible secret anymore. I see myths being destroyed and rumors being shut down.

A very big amount of the population, degree or no degree, have fought to get us to where mental health has become a conversation. The lines are no longer black and white.

There is terror in loneliness when you suffer from a disorder and you do not have the therapist, the one person trained to understand you in the labyrinth, it is suffering. That’s why the conversation needs to stay open.

The Conversation

Everybody has a hard time and a good time. Just different degrees on the spectrum. If you need help, I urge you to look for resources and honor yourself. Do it for you. You win every time you take care of yourself.

There is no shame in falling. You carry the world on your shoulders when nobody realizes it. There is nothing monstrous in the struggle. Beyond all the words and characterization, it is a part of life. One part. If you are a trained magician that has been dealing with unseen things for so long, you can make it far. You didn’t come this far to only get this far.

Look for friends that make time for you, look in the eyes what spells love for you. Look for friends that want to learn. Learn how you are doing, how your day was. You are a whole human being, in the same universe as countless creatures and stars. You are not here for decoration. I promise you that.

And when you feel like you are bothering a friend by speaking up, I want you to remember you deserve that space and it was given to you. And when you feel like you take too much space in the world, you’re probably not taking enough.

Thank you for reading.

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La Chrysanthème

La Chrysanthème

Sensitive energy requires kindness and art. For the muses of this world.