I’d like to talk about mental health. The truth is I talk about mental health all the time. Anxiety, depression and PTSD have been a part of my life since I was 21 because of my personal story of trauma. People often expect me to have these experiences because of the severity of my situation. Because I was raped and I talk publicly about my circumstances people assume I have suffered with mental health concerns and they are correct.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with a lot of people that experience mental health concerns. There is such a stigma in our society around mental health, although I do think we have made some strides around mental health with celebrities and commercials and campaigns, I think on a person-to-person level, there are differing experiences.
The reality is that on a granular level, mental health “problems” are not accepted. Most employers don’t accept nightmares and lack of sleep as an excuse to be late, tired or for poor performance. Oftentimes people will question why you are so sad, asking, “Why don’t you want to go out? Why can’t you get out of bed?” I have received a lot of advice when I publicly talk about my depression,
Drink water. Go for a walk. Remember how lucky you are. Call a friend. Eat a healthy meal. Find nature.” While all these things CAN be helpful, sometimes they aren’t what I need in the moment.
When Neil Parekh brought up this idea to do a show about Mental Health, I didn’t hesitate. In fact, I think I talked my way into co-hosting because I was so eager to do it. Over 30 years of my life have been spent on this mental health journey. For me there is no destination, just like there is no destination for my healing journey from being raped. Maybe it’s the company I keep, and boy are they amazing company, but I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t have a story, that doesn’t have some type of mental health concern. So many people suffer in silence.
There is still this notion that mental health concerns only happen to people who have had severe crises in their lives. That is simply not true. Some people are born with a chemical imbalance, some people have inherited mental health issues from generations of family members. Neil and I have talked about this shadow that hovers over us at times. We want to take that shadow from the scary darkness and illuminate it into the light. Things in the dark are often much scarier than when you can see them in the light.
So please join us as we embark on this journey of discovery. A journey of discovery of our own mental health journey and fears, of others’ mental health journeys and experiences and of good conversations that will spark awareness for all of us.
“Shining Light on Shadows: A Candid Conversation About Mental Health” will be a twice a month livestream, the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 6pm CT. We’ll be live on Facebook, Twitter*, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram* and Neil’s website. I hope you can join us as and when you are able to do so.
*We won't know the exact urls for Twitter and Instagram until we go live. The Twitter link goes to Neil's Twitter account. The Instagram link goes to my Instagram account.