I would normally post on social media asking people to reach out and speak up about mental health during World Mental Health Day this month. This year, I could not get myself to urge people to do so. Instead, I thought: how can I possibly tell people to speak up, when due to my experiences, I do not see that our community knows how to respond to anyone who does? I believe that to address the stigma surrounding mental health more effectively, we need to tackle the core issue and end the stigmatization of wellness as a whole. Wellness is the driving force behind our lives and is personal for all of us, because we all need to constantly maintain it.
We are sensitive beings. We sense our way through life. We question, observe, think, feel, reflect and conclude. We learn. We all have the same basic human needs to stay energized, and keep doing what we set out to do every single day. We all, some mornings, desire solitude, and other days, wake up enthusiastically, ready to face the world with excitement in our every step. All of us at some point find ourselves with an illness or injury — temporary or chronic. All of us experience grief for something or someone. We all go through trivial worries and while some dissolve with time, others fall deeper into our lives and become serious issues. And then we seek out ways to solve them.
We all share hugs, laughs and moments and express ourselves in some way or form to others: about our anger, appreciations, obstacles, incidents, and people we cross paths with. About our experiences. We might not always feel understood, or understand others' experiences, but we can respect them. We can respect that the unique endeavours each of us face do not make anybody more or less ‘normal’; it actually validates that we are all driven by our senses and our wellness. Perhaps normality is comfort and conformity in what we find familiar. Regardless, we all can listen, and want others to listen to us as well. We are human, with cognition and perceptions, living in an interconnected ecological system, depending on ourselves, others and the environment.
Since mental health stems from wellness, what matters more to me than talking about mental health is that we see wellness not as fighting off illness, mental or physical, but rather as working to attain and maintain our own balance in life. I believe this balance is what will keep me as healthy as I can be. That is why I believe taking care of ourselves involves taking care of eachother, and our surroundings, every living moment.
So, I question: When somebody approaches us to share an experience, why do we judge? Why not do what we all can do: listen, and love?
I’m challenging myself to do this, and I challenge you as well. I challenge us to take care of ourselves; by listening to ourselves to find and address our own needs, listening to others, respecting what we can or cannot understand, and acting through love. Maybe then there need not be a World Mental Health Day, and positive wellness will be attained every day.
- Natalie Fasheh is a fourth-year music student
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