Hi My Loves,
I hope you’re all doing well!
Do you ever get frustrated at how often people casually throw around the phrase, how are you? It’s a pretty personal question, and we all toss it out as though it’s the same as saying hey! When really, it’s not the same at all. I’ve found that I’m becoming more attentive, and while I’m still in the habit of casually tossing out a “how are you”, I actually really care about the response. The problem though, is that it’s often not really an appropriate time to have a chat about how someone is really doing. Unless you’re with a very close friend or some other exceptional situation, often it’s not even appropriate to answer that question honestly. Though I wish it were. The expected response is almost always “good”, or “not bad”. If you respond differently, you’re often met with an awkward silence, or an insincere response. That’s not to say you’ll never be met with actual sincerity, it’s just that in my experience, that’s way less likely. I feel like we should try to avoid asking how someone is doing, when we don’t really care about how they’re doing. If you do care, by all means, ask away. But don’t ask if what you really mean is “hey, it’s good to see you.” I’ve had times where it’s not really an appropriate time to chat about how someone is really doing, but I ask the question and I’m stuck in the situation somehow. For example, I’ve just arrived at work and see a coworker but I really only have about 10 seconds to say hello before my shift starts- and yet I ask the famous “how are you?”. A few days ago this happened and a received a sad sounding, it’s okay…So i quickly said, is everything alright (a far more compassionate question than, how are ya?) and they replied with a sad sounding, yea, things are alright. Now in a normal conversation I would inquire and try to support them, but when I now have to leave to start by shift, I can’t say anything more than smile sadly back and say okay.
I guess it just bothers me a lot when people are insincere. When we never know what another person is going through, and we have numerous chances to connect with and support one another each and every day, but people choose not to. It makes my heart sad. We should be there for others and share our struggles. It shouldn’t be taboo that people struggle. It shouldn’t be awkward for someone to give any response other than good. It gives us a chance to get to know one another, share our lives, and offer support. Why should we shy away from that? And yet so much of our society does, it’s the norm. I guess that’s part of why the “End The Stigma” Campaign is so necessary (if you don’t know, it’s about trying to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness, as though people deserve to be looked down upon for having a mental illness, end the stigma is trying to make a lack of perfection something that society our can accept). It’s already awkward for people to say, I’m alright, or, not too great. But it would be far worse for someone to say, I’m having a really hard time. Do you guys agree? That’s not okay. If someone is having a really hard time they should feel safe to share that, not feel as though they’re going against social norms by sharing how they’re really feeling. I see it all too often, I even feel it myself. I don’t struggle with mental illness, but even I feel lonely when I feel as though I have to keep my true emotions a secret from society. Now I can’t imagine how challenging it must feel to be struggling with an illness such as depression, and be caused to feel even more alone than you already to, simply because theres a stigma that surrounds mental illness and anyone having less than perfection. Just the fact that this campaign is happening, is a great and big step, but it absolutely is not enough. Like i’ve said, it’s not just mental illness that’s stigmatized, it’s the social norm that everyone should seem perfect and if you don’t theres something weird or bad. When really, who the eff is anywhere close to perfect!? What even is perfect!? So why do we live in a society that is so unaccepting of people who don’t seem perfect! Bleh it makes me so angry! No wonder people struggle so much with feeling lonely and isolated in North America. It’s horrible. There is so much beauty in being open and sharing our struggles as human beings with one another, and I think we all need to do it more. It’s not just people with mental illness that need to try and overcome the hurdle of sharing their struggles, it’s all of us, and believe me it’s way easier for those of us not struggling with mental illness. I believe that if we all accept this and try to be more genuine and honest and accepting, the people of my children’s generation will not have to strive for superficial perfection.
If you’re wondering why I’m suddenly talking about mental illness as though I understand, it’s because I am starting to. Over the past 3-4 months my husband has been struggling with severe depression and it’s really brought his life to a halt. It was hard enough for him to have this illness and try and keep up with his life, but it made it so much worse when he was forced to feel so isolated. No matter how much you reach out to people, or try to share what you’re going through, you know that people don’t understand, and you know that often they are only passing judgement rather than having compassion. Like I’ve been saying, it’s awkward and not appropriate in our society to appear less than perfect. But mental illness, and any lack of superficial perfection, is not something to be looked down upon and shoved aside. It is part of our human experience. It is something that we all share. None of us are anywhere close to perfect, and we all struggle in one way or another. My husband is an amazing, extremely compassionate and mentally strong human being. But he suffers with depression, it will likely always be a part of his life, and we’ve accepted that. But it does not make him any less amazing, in fact, I believe it makes him even more compassionate than he already is, because he knows what it’s like to be in the darkest place and struggle. Many people who come out of depression and other mental illnesses end up having a much more compassion and empathy for others. My husband is amazing, and strong, and what he goes through makes him a far deeper and more compassionate person than he would be otherwise. These things are part of life, you can’t avoid them, and you shouldn’t want to. Struggles do not make someone any less of a beautiful person, in fact, they often make that person more beautiful.
I hope you’ll take to heart what I’ve said today. As you can tell, it’s something that’s dear to my heart and a sad problem plaguing our society. Thanks so much for listening. Like always, it would really mean a lot to me if you shared your thoughts in the comment box below. Now I have a recipe to share with you, I hope you enjoy!