Healing is often accompanied by the phrase “one day you’ll get there!” It’s made to sound as if it’s a predestined journey with a specific destination. But do we really know what this ‘there’ is? Or where it is, or how we even measure how far we’ve come?
The recent wave of mental health awareness has swept the world. However, it remains stigmatized in many families. What has prompted this wave, and why there’s a need to have an open and honest conversation about our mental health is evident in our daily happenings if we observe them closely enough. We live in a world where people’s problems and anxieties eat them up, and even the ones closest to them don’t sense a hint of trouble. This societal shame and burden that many carry on their backs has taken so many precious lives away from us.
As a result of this stigma, unhealthy coping mechanisms take root in our lives that are very hard to shake later on. More often than not, people either avoid their problems, or bottle them up to the point of bursting. These are self-destructive in nature, and never really help someone really recover from whatever it is they they may be dealing with. This is something many of us struggle with, and especially during the extraordinary times that we live in today. What’s important to realise is that remaining in what becomes this quicksand of overwhelming emotions and negativity, often ends with us spiralling into a seemingly never ending void.
The pandemic has also created a bubble around us, but at the same time pitting us against each other in a productivity contest. Those who relied on outdoors or staying busy to manage stress, or to even cope with their mental health problems, are now confined to their homes. Little to no interaction or escape from the four walls has hindered these healing processes which we all are actively involved in, no matter what we might be going through. One does not need a label to realise that their problems matter. And once they do so, it helps them to advance their path to deal with them more positively, rather than returning to the petrifying quicksand.
The dealing and healing takes time and effort, which is something we often discount in the hustle and bustle of life. Coming to terms with any form of conflict becomes a source of stress, and we end up losing ourselves to these very frustrations. Often, it snowballs into all the pent up thoughts and emotions we keep stashed away. While turning to unhealthy coping and defence mechanisms, people turn to intoxication or avoidance. This is usually a result of impatience and spontaneity. While one finds temporary relief through these escapist strategies, it ends up becoming a go-to in times of crises, eventually causing long term damage.
Personally, I have realised how much patience it takes to even do the bare minimum on your worst days. Those are the days which are instrumental in one’s assuaging process. It’s important to realise that there’s no linear path of getting wherever your ‘there’ is; and that your setbacks may make you feel as if you’re back to square one or even worse. But these are the times which truly test you and your strength. Not giving in at these occasions are the milestones in our personal journeys through this roller coaster of emotions that we call life.
Realising this, of course, isn’t the solution to everything. It is, however, an important step in the right direction, especially for those of us who feel ‘stuck’ very often. There will still be days when you wish you were free of all obstacles, but then you really wouldn’t be living. When you’re going through something, it feels like you’re drowning, but somewhat floating in the middle of an ocean. Water everywhere, and nothing else in sight. In that moment, to even have that one percent of you screaming inside that “hey! you’ve been here before, and you’ll make it out again!” is what gets you out.
At the end of the day, one has to adapt to this ‘Jearmy Bearimy’ of healing. The fact that the world collectively is moving towards compassion towards the issue of mental health paints a picture of hope. And to be able to take even a step towards realising how to cope better can help not just us, but also those around us!