Let’s Unite to Ditch the Charade of ‘I’m Fine’

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by Lara Govendo |

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mental health awareness

Confusion over how we “should” react to suffering wreaks havoc in the mind, often triggering a shame response. We so often utter the words, “I’m fine,” though that performative response is far from the truth. Inside, we cry out for help. The cultural norm’s expectation is to function without our inner pain affecting us.

Changing the relationship with mental health in western society is past due. Mental Health Awareness Month creates the opportunity to speak about our hidden, internal struggles. Let’s use this month to promote being open and authentic about our daily battles.

Our first step to unity is to realize that everyone is fighting a battle. Mental health struggles among the chronically ill are mighty and rampant. Too often, we fall into the comparison trap — comparing our lives to those curated on social media — which further turns us inward due to fear of judgment. We should encourage and normalize more dialogue about mental health matters. These conversations are essential to moving in the direction of emotional honesty, granting us camaraderie with others who have similar struggles.

Sadly, because of shame stigmas surrounding mental health, many individuals struggle in silence. We’ve created a culture in which it’s unsafe to discuss emotional wounds or battles of the mind. Many of us are ashamed because we think we’re the only ones struggling to cope with life’s trials, but that shame completely negates what it means to be human.

Combating shame is a harrowing feat, but possible. How do we do it? By remembering that we are not alone. Finding a community that embraces all parts of us while also celebrating and supporting us is essential to our well-being.

Society has sold us the lie that dealing with life matters should be easy. If we’re struggling, then there must be something wrong with us. We tackle life’s curveballs with the goal of returning to “normal,” without realizing that normal is an illusion. The majority of our tribulations are unforeseen, unplanned, and outside the realm of our control.

For so long, those who struggle with mental health matters have been stuck in survival mode: If I can just get through this … ” But how do we “just get through” anxiety, depression, and obsessive thoughts without suffering an implosion? The more we suppress our emotions, the deeper the wounds fester. Our internal pain ends up hurting ourselves and others. Hurt people hurt people. This only further divides us.

We can no longer sustain suffering in pain behind closed doors. Culture changes are essential to thrusting into thriving mode.  Let’s share the weight of our internal baggage before we collapse under pressure. Though much of society implies “asking for help” is weak, in reality, we need abundant strength to seek help, show vulnerability, and share our stories. These vital tactics heal our wounds.

Tackling my thoughts clears my mind, and my body often follows suit. (Courtesy of Lara Govendo)

Mental health wellness is as important as physical wellness. Western culture has normalized seeking help when our bodies are injured, sick, or diseased, so why not seek help when chemical imbalances, environmental influences, and genetic predispositions change our mental functions? After all, mental health challenges drastically affect our physical conditions. Aligning mental and physical health is essential to optimal functioning.

Making effort to understand our triggers, tendencies, and trauma propels us into proactive mental health treatment. Knowing our symptoms’ triggers empowers us when in the midst of crises. We tend to get stuck in the emotional patterns we’ve developed. Trauma changes our perception through what we’ve experienced.

We need bravery to dig into our mental health, whether diagnosed with a condition or not. We must be driven to develop coping strategies and to do whatever it takes to make psychological wellness a priority. Prioritizing mental and emotional well-being is imperative for living our best lives.

More often than not, the way other people speak and act has nothing to do with us. When we understand everyone is carrying a burden, we can recognize that speaking kindness and love will cultivate a compassionate community. The internal battles are real and personal, but we are stronger together. Nobody has to fight alone. All parts of our life are important and deserve to be cared for. Let’s change societal customs and boost a unified message of hope for everyone’s mental health wellness.

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Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

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