I have just booked in to go and speak to a psychologist for the first time ever.
Nope I’m not sick. I’m not sad or depressed. I’m not anxious. I don’t have voices in my head. I’m not suffering mentally in any way… well, right now I’m not.
But I still think I should go.
We go to the GP and dentist for a check up (well… at least females do), why shouldn’t we go to the psych for a check up too?
Many of us may say the stigma about mental health is gone these days, but is it? We have Mental Health Week, Men’s health week, Movember, RUOK Day… all supporting how okay it is to speak up when you are having trouble. Yet suicide is the clear number one killer of people aged 15-44 (aihw.gov.au), and it is growing.
Despite all of the support out there, most of us are way too proud to admit we need some help. Unfortunately it is those that need it most that tend to resist it most. We all post on the socials on RUOK Day that we’re here if anyone needs, but how many of us actually take someone up on the offer when we know we need it?
Why don’t we take someone up who is openly offering to listen?
Fear of judgement?
Fear of an awkward conversation?
Fear of showing your vulnerability to someone?
I’d say yes to all.
But where do these barriers come from when there is so much support out there saying ‘hey, it is okay, come out and speak about it’?
Parents generational influence to show pride and harden up?
Our Australian culture?
The preconceived idea that all men must be tough, hard working, financially providing rocks and all women are to be perfect mum’s with perfect bodies, can be sexy but can’t be a slut and can be their own independent person but cannot undermine their man?
The ultra judgement, comparison, trolling and bullying world of social media?
I’d say yes to these all again.
I feel with mental health, we are in a constant state of conflict.
The messages on mental health we receive and send to each other say ‘IT’S OKAY’, ‘BE YOU’, ‘SPEAK UP’ and ‘I’M LISTENING’…
But then what we see is people being nasty to people online, people being horrible to people in traffic, people gossiping about people behind their backs, neighbours not saying hello to their neighbours because they are fighting over sheds that are actually bungalows, tall poppies being hacked down when they show any sign of growth, parents telling their kids they are beautiful and can achieve anything but in the same breath body shaming themselves and fearing themselves out of achieving their own dreams.
How can we trust each other to speak up when we spend much of our time putting each other down? How can you trust your mate that said ‘RUOK?’ when you see him on Facebook comments trash talking other people’s character?
In a world where we seem to care more about what people outside our circle think of us more than those inside our circle, how can we find the courage to speak up?
The way I see it, is that we just have to. There just is no other way. I don’t see those barriers dropping anytime soon.
We all supposed to do otherwise? Sit and sulk about the fear of being judged until Instagram and Facebook fade away? Let ourselves dive into a deeper darkness because our parents were and are so so proud and we can’t let them see our weakness?
If you want your situation to improve so badly, if you are sad often, if you are struggling with something in your life, you just have to grit your teeth and face it. Because nothing will be achieved while we are succumbing to our fears.
In order to achieve the happiness we all deserve, to overcome our mental obstacles, we must be vulnerable and we must be courageous.
There is no shortcut.
There is no easy route.
The path will be treacherous and uncomfortable.
The path will be dark and foggy.
The path will leave you with a few scars.
There will be absolutely no certainty of outcome or a timeline for it.
But through courage and vulnerability you will take failures on the chin and learn from them.
Through courage and vulnerability you will discover new and exciting opportunities you never expected or thought possible.
Through courage and vulnerability you will learn to reject judgement and accept support.
Through courage and vulnerability you will find the strength and confidence to overcome your demons.
Through courage and vulnerability you will leave that dark place for good.
Courage and vulnerability is the only way.
Why I am going to the psychologist:
So I can experience what it is like to see a psych.
So I can refer my members to go and have actually walked the walk.
For preventative health. We get flu shots, skin checks, massages and gp check ups. Why should a mental check up be any different?
We’ve all been through something. I’m no smooth sailing ship either. I may not be suffering like some, but I’m sure there is plenty we could uncover and I’m sure I’ll end up in tears at some point.
I want to learn more about myself and see where I can grow and become better.
But most importantly:
If I can inspire at least one person to go and do the same, then it is all worth it. Bonus points if it is a male.
If you are going through something, if the fear of judgement, ridicule, shame, loss of pride, a hit to the ego or declining hope is holding you back. Go and speak to someone. Or speak to me! It doesn’t have to be a psychologist, you can just start with a mate.
I will be uncomfortable. It will probably feel worse before it feels better. But there is always a light and there is always a way. If you can face those fears, be vulnerable and bring courage with you, those fears will turn into strengths and your courage to be vulnerable will become what you are known, praised and looked up to for.
We all applaud and admire a person that shows courage, yet we are worried to show it ourselves.