On Friday, June 7, hundreds of thousands of people flooded Dunkin' Donuts stores around the country and posted selfies with little round circles of sugar and dough to celebrate "National Doughnut Day". Last week on October 3, so many #NationalBoyfriendDay posts popped up on my feed, I was convinced I was in some social experiment to send subliminal messages in hopes of "straightening me out". Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day, and you know what. People aren't posting shit.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was first published in 1952, at a time when people were people electrified and lobotomized on the daily. Since then, five official revisions have been published of the manual and suffice it to say we have made leaps and bounds in understanding mental disorders, diseases and overall mental hygiene.
So why after making such strides on the scientific side of the spectrum, are we all so afraid to talk about the topic of mental health? And why the hell did I see more pictures of donuts than any homage to this day whatsoever?
The answer is simple. Mental health isn't trendy. Even after so many years of evolution on the topic, there is still a strong negative stigma associated with mental health. And it is just wrong. Our society is so consumed with the outward - the body - of humanity, we take no time to sit and reflect on the inward - the mind - of humanity.
Think about it. How many selfies do you see of people walking into therapy. And what would that even look like? #MentalGains? #IHaveIssues? #WorkingThroughSomeDeepShitToday? I mean really. But boy do we love those gym selfies. #Gains. And my God, let's not even start with the "healthy food posts" that litter the feed every morning. #EatClean.
I myself am guilty of it. I follow more personal trainers than I can count on my instagram and I often find myself spending more time thinking about how I should get to the gym instead of checking in with myself mentally and emotionally. I love a good Paleo post as much as the next #meatheadhippie and bulletproof coffee makes my world complete. But what people may not realize is that I've been seeing a therapist regularly for almost a year now.
Sadly, I have recently needed to cut down on some expenses and have had to pause my sessions, but boy do I miss it. Just yesterday my friend at work asked me if I could choose between going back to Equinox or having my therapist back, which would I choose. "My therapist", I responded within five seconds. Knowing my deep love for spinning classes and Eucalyptus towels, she was shocked by the answer. I explained to her that I could work my body out anywhere. I can run outside, ride my bike, heck do push-ups on my bedroom floor. But finding a therapist who helps you grow mentally is an invaluable asset to daily living.
I am personally of the belief that every person should see some form of mental health professional, just like I believe every person should engage in physical exercise and healthy eating. Our health needs to be equally balanced in all aspects. For example, if I go for a long bike ride, I don't go eat at Taco Bell after (tempting as it may be). Why? Because that would negate the bike ride. Well, along that same train of logic, when we spend so much time focusing on our physical health and none on our mental health, the physical health is negated.
The first and most important way to end the false impression of mental health that currently exists in our society is to talk about it. Next time someone asks how you are doing, answer honestly. If you're struggling with something, talk to someone about it. Don't just go to the gym and hit a punching bag until those feelings go away like I used to. Confront those feelings, and tend to them. Talk to a therapist. Talk about therapy. If you already see a therapist, tell people that you do. Post about it for heavens sake. Show people that even "normal" people need a little help sometimes.
Campaigns like IDONTMIND and the Trevor Project are working around the clock to alleviate this negative stigma associated with mental health and bring the topic of mental health to the surface. The bottom line is, mental health is not only a conversation worth having, it's a necessary conversation and it needs to happen now.
This Mental Health Awareness Day should not go unnoticed and certainly shouldn't fall second to doughnuts for crying out loud. Delicious and in no way nutritious as they may be.