Mental Health Awareness: “You can sound confident and have anxiety. You can look healthy but feel like shit. You can look happy but be miserable inside. You can be good looking and feel ugly. So be kind, because every person is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
I saw these words posted on Instagram last night and it struck a chord with me. As you may or may not know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. And as we all know, we will fight a battle at one time or another in our lives, if not for life. That battle could be with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, ADD/ADHD and the list goes on. So many of us struggle silently and this month more than ever teaches us to #breakthestigma.
Mental health awareness in my opinion has come a long way in the past few years. We are breaking the stigma of what it means to struggle with a mental health disorder and millennials have been dubbed the “therapy generation” (seriously). While I’m not thrilled with yet another article being written about my generation, this one in particular sheds light into the fact that we don’t deem seeking help as being weak.
With the rise of the internet and social media and more voices being heard, mental health is something that is getting talked about and published more and more. The awareness of mental health is moving in a positive direction. However, we often get caught up in our daily lives and forget or don’t even know how many of the people we know personally are suffering, silently.
It’s because we typically only pay attention to what we see on the outside. If a person seems ‘happy’ or ‘successful’ or ‘put together,’ then we don’t need to worry about them right? That’s where mental health awareness falls short.
It’s something that has affected me for years. If you were to ask anyone who knows me, they’d say I have a great job, a nice condo, a loving husband and I get to go on fun travel adventures. On the outside, my life seems pretty great and I’m not here to tell you it’s not. I am grateful for the things I have and the people I have in my life. But just because I have all of that, doesn’t mean I still don’t struggle beneath the surface.
I’m not here to write a sob story. I’m here to write and bring awareness. I was diagnosed by my therapist two years ago with generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety and high-functioning anxiety. I wrote all about my experience with this in my post last year. While high-functioning anxiety is not recognized as a mental health diagnosis, the other two very much are. But the high-functioning anxiety in particular is what I believe fuels the other two types of anxiety that I have. The typical high functioning person with anxiety appears to be an overachiever.
On the outside, I am:
- High achieving
But what people don’t know beneath the surface, I’m battling:
- A fear of failure
- Never feeling good enough
- Trying to be a version of perfect I know deep down is unattainable
- Imposter syndrome and not feeling worthy
- Feelings of loneliness and that my friends want nothing to do with me
- Being a people pleaser and wanting people to like me
- Overthinking at all times of every day
- A racing mind that will never quit and let me relax
- A constant state of paranoia and thinking the worst
- An overflowing plate of to-do’s that never seem to end
- A need for reassurance for the decisions I’m making or the feelings I’m feeling
Going back to the quote at the beginning of this post, it is such a good reminder for us. We truly don’t know what someone is going through, unless it’s ourselves. That’s the awareness of mental health that we need. What happens beneath the surface, especially with those that hide it so well.
It’s why I’m personally remembering not just this month, but every month, to choose kindness wherever I go and with every human encounter I have.
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.