“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” – Paulo Coelho
I remember the first time I learned that I had a mental disorder…It was scary and incredibly hard to accept. What would people think about me when they found out? How was I supposed to be “normal”? Who would understand? Everyone had their ideas of how I was going to snap out of it, but they rarely acknowledged their own brokenness.
There’s a stigma surrounding mental health that we know all-too-well. You don’t even have to be battling a mental disorder to know that it’s a topic often neglected in social conversations. We instantly consider the individual facing this fight as someone who is more broken than others (or ourselves). It’s often asked: “Why don’t you just let it go? Think positive thoughts! It should just go away!” Or, in some circles, there’s the phrase: “Pray it away”. Instead of encouraging others to seek the right help to find true healing, we dismiss their brokenness as something that should be easily overcome.
Our world is one of wearing masks of worthless titles, getting plastic surgery to make the outside look perfect, and putting on a fake show of “I’m fine” to be liked by others. We don’t live in a world where being honest about our brokenness is welcomed often, so we hide our pain, pretending to be OK.
You don’t have a mental disorder? Good for you. But guess what? You know those addictions you deny? You know that secret you hide behind your eyes? You know those fears? You know those longings within yourself that you just can’t figure out? You are broken too.
WE ARE ALL BROKEN IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
I have a friend who recently confided in me that they don’t know how to tell their family that they are battling depression. Why? They’re afraid that they’ll be seen as crazy, a freak, or damaged. What’s even more tragic is that this person struggles with self-harm, yet the world around them doesn’t even realize that they’re hurting.
Stigma surrounding mental health must end. There are too many people who long for healing, yet they don’t know how to talk about it or seek the right help. There are far too many hurting souls who are being marginalized, all while the rest of humanity carries their own perceived “better brands” of brokenness with arrogance.
What do you want to be known for? There are people who need a listening ear and a warm embrace. We live in a harsh world. You’re invited to be a part of the light, not the dark. Yet, I must warn you that living in the light requires something very courageous:
We must be honest that we’re broken too, inviting others to confide in us about their own battles. Stepping in the light requires us to be honest and vulnerable. That’s hard in this day and age.
Will you step into the light to reach someone else?
It’s time to end the stigma of mental health, one honest conversation at a time.