The Reality of Mental Health

Sometimes, the things we can’t see are the hardest to grapple with.

My family home was beautiful and brown, at least it was when we first moved in. It was a good-sized place, and my Dad had several pieces added to it to accommodate our growing family. I moved from a room at the front of the house, overlooking the street, to the master bedroom, which was then made smaller, and my private bathroom was opened up to my two stepbrothers. I was devastated to lose my luxurious master bedroom, but it needed to be done for the greater good. Aside from the bigger projects, there would be subtle alterations in the coming years, proof that nothing is ever really finished, and that just when you think something is beginning to stagnate, everything can change.

In the last iteration of that house, I remember that we had wooden floors in one section of it, with a small little step leading into another room. It was wood-on-wood, which made that tiny little step almost invisible to the untrained eye. No one ever thought anything about it until someone almost wiped out. That person took a step, expecting a regular landing, when in fact the actual landing was a few inches below where they anticipated. The person was stunned, but okay. They were able to stave off disaster, and afterwards we threw some blue tape on the step to make sure that a similar incident never happened again.

You may be wondering what that story means, if it relates to something, and the answer is yes. Sometimes, you can be going along in life, and everything can be going really well. You can be coming off an amazing summer, feeling ready to tackle what the year has in store for you, and you can step with conviction as you walk the walk of life, only to find that the place you tried to step on, that it wasn’t there, or that it was much lower than you expected it to be. You can be doing just fine, but just like that, you step into a little bit of a hole, and there you find yourself, wondering what it is that just happened.

—-

I went back and forth on writing this post, as I did with the last one, but in honor of World Mental Health Day, I figured that this topic could use a bit of illumination.

This past month and change has thrown me for a loop. I can say with conviction that I was not myself. Mental health is oddly similar to physical health in that, once it goes south, it can be very hard to do just about anything, and to do it well. I didn’t have my characteristic energy. I canceled plans on people, which is something I rarely do. It all became about me, which is something I never want, but I had to do what was best for me. Sometimes, we just need time to heal, and so heal I did. I took time away from life to get myself back to feeling like Adam.

Mental health is something that I’ll be passionate about for a long time, possibly forever. It’s something that’s impacted my life very deeply and profoundly. Sometimes, you know what’s causing something, but sometimes, it comes without announcement. There are good days and bad. There are days where you feel like you’re really getting back to normal, and then you wake up feeling like you’ve taken ten steps backwards. It’s important not to resist, to just sit with the feelings that you’re feeling, but of course, in the moment, you want to be as far away from what you’re dealing with as you possibly can. We muddle our way through, and hope that next time, if there is one, we’ll be better prepared.

—-

When we need it the most, we often find we are blessed with friends.

Mental health makes people uncomfortable, and I understand it, especially if you’ve never experienced any aspect of it. It’s something that you usually can’t see, and yet, maybe that’s the best reason there is to treat everyone we meet with compassion. We truly have no idea what someone is dealing with at any given time. They may have chosen an inappropriate way to express or deal with what they’re going through, but hopefully we’ve developed enough compassion and forgiveness to be able to let things go, to realize that it’s likely coming from a place of hurt, not malice.

Friends help us to make it through these times, but I think I’m also learning more compassion for myself. I’ve been trying to get more sleep, and even if it doesn’t always come, resting can help. We always want to be on the move and going about our days, but we need to recognize when it’s time to slow down, when we need to sit out for a couple of plays, and just do some things for ourselves. We have this drive to be going at full speed all of the time, and while a life can sometimes necessitate that, we can’t be afraid of taking some time to just relax.

As I’m fond of saying, we can’t keep our problems to ourselves. In a particularly inspired move, I decided to stop seeing my therapist for a bit, and that was not a wise decision. Sometimes, we’re ready to stand on our own two feet, but in others, we need to check our ego and realize when we need to talk to someone, maybe to get some clarity on a given situation, or maybe just to wring out our mental sponge. When you bottle everything up, that’s when you run into trouble. If you don’t have a therapist, the hope is that you have a solid network of people around you who ask how you’re doing, and they actually mean it.

I’m feeling much better these days, and I’m blessed to have such truly amazing and understanding people in my life. It’s not always easy to navigate this chaotic world, and so a part of me just wanted to admit, the way I encourage others to do, that sometimes I am profoundly human, even if I don’t want to be, even if it pains me to admit that. We’re all just making our way through each and every day. I’ll do my best to be thankful, and to look at each day as an opportunity to be even better than I was yesterday. Thanks for reading.

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3 thoughts on “The Reality of Mental Health

  1. Adam,

    You’ve stopped blogging or at least under this WordPress account. I miss your extraordinary writing and deep thoughts sharing.

    Tangentially, I have not been keeping up with posts from a handful of people whom I relish reading.

    My world has been chaotic the past couple of months. Many changes unfolding in my life… all, I believe, for the better. I’ll defer from specifics here as I don’t want this to be about me (sound familiar?). 😊

    This post, the last I can find from you, is quintessential Adam. It’s honest, it’s revealing, and it strikes a chord with me… and I hope other readers.

    The most poignant share I will take from this, as well as all of your heartfelt writing, is the concept of and greater need for compassion. If we are unable to keep our online connection alive, please know that I wish you an abundance of peace, love and compassion! I am convinced you are deserving of these and much more.

    Warmest regards,
    Eric

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eric,

      I have genuinely enjoyed our connection, and hope that it continues. I’d welcome the chance to communicate via other modes of communication, so let me know your thoughts on that. I enjoy your posts and your unique perspective.

      It’s been a long time since I last posted, and it wasn’t intentional. My personal life has been a bit topsy-turvy, and it sounds like yours has been as well. I love this blog, and the hope is that I’ll start posting again, hopefully once a week.

      Compassion is key, both for others, and for ourselves. I hope that you are well, and I look forward to connecting soon.

      All the best,
      Adam

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Adam,

        It is good to hear from you and to learn you are (may I presume?) well. I like the choice of “topsy-turvy” to describe your recent personal life. That status can heighten our awareness, and it tends to keep us on our toes… despite it’s potential to be a bit unnerving.

        I see you’ve added a recent post. I’ll read it soonest. I’m sure your message will be genuine Adam, inspiring and thought provoking.

        To the mutual interest in sustaining our, to date, online connection, I believe you might have my email… eric@erictonningsen.com. If you’d like a phone contact, ask (in an email) and it shall be yours.

        Thrive and stay well, good man!

        Like

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