They say when a volcano is about to erupt, there are specific warning signs. The ground around it steams and swells, and there are small tremble-like earthquakes that happen within the area. I feel the same happens to humans when we too, near our breaking point. Everything around us intensifies, internally we feel like we’re suffocating, and if we ignore the signs for too long – BOOM – we fu%king blow.
I get paid to pay attention to people and their surroundings. I study human behavior for a living, curiously observing people, studying their words and actions and reporting on my observations. In the past few years, I have detected something concerning in my findings: the rise of those struggling with mental health. I have witnessed many people wrestling with their demons, ignoring the warning signs, and often going untreated. In the turbulent climate in which we’re living in, we’re carrying a heavy mental load, and many are doing so in silence. Because the stigma of admitting we’re not okay is more agonizing than the secret we’re holding on to. Yet, that secret, is the reason why we’re struggling in the first place.
I see this happening across all demographics. We’re all feeling the heaviness. I personally have observed it most in teens, younger men, and Moms (of all ages). I began to educate myself a bit more, and through some extensive desk research, I came across stories and stats that confirmed what I was observing:
- Over one in five teenagers in the U.S. have a mental health disorder
- Six million men are affected by depression each year in the United States.
- 1 in 7 women experiences postpartum depression (51% more common today than it was 25 years ago.)
- Suicide rates are on the rise (30% increase over the past 10 years), and we’re seeing those rates intensify among teens and men specifically.
- Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among teens (10-18 years old).
- The rate of youth suicide has increased by 58 percent in the past decade.
- Men have 3.5x higher suicide rate than women and makeup over 75 percent of suicide victims in the United States alone.
source: NAMI (National Alliance On Mental Illness)
So why have I decided to write about such a distressing topic? Because it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, THE month, where we have the chance to move through the darkness and shed some light on the issue at hand, by raising awareness, and once and for all, ending the stigma society assigns to it. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about it, because I, myself have experienced a handful of my own dark nights of the soul. I never contemplated suicide, but I can’t say I didn’t wonder at times what this life of mine was all for. In my darkest nights of the soul, my anxiety took over, where my wheels spun uncontrollably, overthinking and breathlessly panicking about everything happening and NOT happening in my life. A therapist once told me I had “energizer bunny brain” because my brain never stops, it just keeps going and going. It’s fu%king exhausting, but I know I am not alone. I am part of a large soul tribe who treads the same unsettled waters.
So, let me pause here for a moment and ask you, the reader, an important question. How are YOU doing? Really. How are YOU doing, right here, right now? And please don’t say “fine”. “Fine” is the fuckery that gets us in trouble. “Fine” is a lie. “Fine” is dismissive. “Fine” is a secret cloaked in shame. “Fine” is the enemy of mental illness.
I lived my entire life in the land of “Fine”. Because the alternative was pulling back the curtain on my life, and letting people see just how untidy and un-fine it actually was. I genuinely felt that admitting to not being fine, was just not an option. I was supposed to show up, in all my fraud-like fineness, and act as if.
It took me 46 years to leave that land of lies and start anew. When I got real about not being “fine”, I found my tribe of other messy humans who too were sick of feeling like frauds. I felt seen, heard and part of the realest, rawest gang of truth tellers I had ever known. The sham ended for me at that time, and that was why I chose to open up on The Daily Feels about my struggle with situational anxiety (“Anxiety: The Friend & Foe”). Was it scary to pull off the veil? HELL. FU%KING. YES. But the alternative was worse. I needed to break the chains that bind me once and for all. What that experience taught me, was when you share your story, your “real, messy, untold” story, it sparks something in someone else to share there’s. And THAT is fu%king beautiful.
It’s truly the stigma that society attaches to mental health that keeps people from sharing their struggle. Society has deemed those battling with mental illness as weak, strange, and crazy. That stigma prevents people from getting treated. That stigma is keeping people in the dark. That stigma has buried all too many. That stigma is bullshit. That stigma is ours to break. I say this with great certainty: it’s typically the strong who suffer the most. I have never met a fiercer individual who hasn’t at one point in their life, struggled with their mental health. So, fu%k the stigma. It takes a powerful, committed, unwavering individual to wake up, show up and confront an unforgiving world each day. The struggle is real, but so is the reward. And as they say, the truth will always set you free.
So let’s make a pinky promise, right here, right now. A vow to pause every now and again and take self-inventory. To check in on ourselves and get real with how we’re truly feeling. To stop striving for ‘superhuman’ and just be kind humans. Less work, more play. Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit. End the mom hard mentality and just mom – because that’s hard enough. Let’s acknowledge all the things that we need to take care of our mental health, because that’s as important as taking care of our babies.
And lastly, my friends, believe me when I say…we don’t heal in isolation. It’s okay not be okay…and it’s more than okay to share it with others and ask for help. You’re invited to join our gang of truthtellers, all are welcome.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.