it’s mental health awareness month and although i’m 100% for ending the stigma, i feel apprehension to write a post about my own mental health. oh, the irony!
it’s apparent that i identify as a positive person. i use the rainbow emoji a lot, i make instagram posts about gratitude and sunshine, and i’m easily jazzed.
i love this about myself. it took some rewiring of my brain, for sure. lots of journaling and practicing gratitude and changing my perspective. i was really mean to myself for a long time. i wish i could pinpoint why i’ve always been such a c*nt to myself, but i suppose that’s what therapy is for. what do i mean by being mean to myself? i remember being in a cold-reading technique class where we filmed ourselves and watched it back the same day. i’d say things like, “ugh, i look terrible.” “i’m so bad at commercials.” “i’ll never get it right.” one day, my instructor asked me to turn to a classmate and say the thing i said about myself to my classmate, but about them. “you look terrible. you’re so bad at commercials. you’ll never get it right.” it was difficult to say this to my classmate, and i’m not even sure i could. i think my response was something along the lines of “no, that’s so mean…” and then it clicked. i have always been a cheerleader and supporter for my friends, but never extended the same kindness to myself. i could never look at someone and tell them they were bad at something, yet for some reason i thought this was fair. if you find yourself agreeing with the last statement, maybe you are where i was then. i truly believed it was constructive to be a dick to myself. i taught middle school students who were many reading levels behind, yet my most effective teaching never came from being an asshole to them. it came from changing their perspective to see growth, not perfection. i am one hundred percent aware of how cliche that sounds. my teacher taught me to say “hey, don’t talk about my friend like that!” every time my mind decided to be an asshole. it worked. i seriously felt an entirely new person. i was positivity incarnate.
fast forward to a year later. i was in a long, serious relationship that imploded to its death. i was always really public about how much we loved each other and enjoyed each others’ company. and suddenly we weren’t together anymore. ultimately it was the best decision for both of us, but i realize now, i felt some deep shame. i had failed, i felt like i took a few giant leaps backwards. job-wise, i was doing great. i was working my job as a product specialist every single week, so i had a lot of traveling and work to distract me. i was booking acting projects. i had a great support group. but i refused to acknowledge my sadness. i was a positive person, right?! i can’t possibly be sad about my break up! it all works out in the end! maybe i’ll try bumble! insert rainbow emoji and yoga class! girl power! here i am doing something fun, hahahahahahah!!!! i remember the exact moment i crumbled. we had moved into a new place together about six months earlier, and had constructed a pretty legit gallery wall that you could see as soon as you entered. i came home from work travels and noticed gaps in the gallery wall; his paintings gone. seeing a physical representation of the loss broke me. it was real then. my positivity had been chipping away at my happiness. my friend katherine told me, “what you resist, persists.” and it wasn’t that i was hung up on my break up or the person. it was that i didn’t take the necessary time to acknowledge that i had invested my time, my heart, my money, my life into something that was no longer there, and that IS sad and disappointing, and that it was okay to feel sad and disappointed because it was APPROPRIATE. i wanted to carry on with my rainbow life like i’d just had a bad day, like i could fix it with a few affirmations and a reiki session (i literally did those things).
much later, i read the book the subtle art of not giving a f*ck. he basically wrote about my situation. no, not about a break up, but about how positivity didn’t serve me. i honestly cannot believe i am writing those words, but it’s true. actually, i should clarify. my attachment to a positive identity is what didn’t serve me. attachment to anything usually breeds trouble, but i had to let myself be sad and put the palo santo down for a second. i was still the same person, but in a bit of a rough patch, man. authenticity is better anyway. such a buzz word.
at this point, i definitely feel peace about all of that. i let myself mourn. i’ve moved on completely. i think i am slightly more jaded than i used to be about love, but i think that’s okay. i talked to a therapist about it, which was kind of helpful. i don’t think i found the right therapist for me, but it felt good to say some words i needed to say to someone who wasn’t my friend or my mom. and i feel like i can have a shitty day and acknowledge it now, but neither dwell in it nor ignore it. the rainbow emoji is definitely still one of my frequently used emojis, but so is the guy with the really sour face and zig zag lips. cause life be like that.