he Fact that the World Insists You Shouldn't, Isn't.
It’s easy to get lost in the “get better” business.
You start out with the best of intentions; you’ve weathered a couple of storms, made it out on the other end and happened to pick up a few crumbs of knowledge along the way.
You want to share what you’ve learned, because you don’t want people to suffer needlessly like you did, especially if you know they can avoid it.
And so you do share… Which is never a bad move.
Because it’s extremely important to articulate, (and repeat, if necessary) that there are viable strategies on how to get better out there; genuine empowerment exists, and there is a whole lot of stuff you can do to improve and maintain your mental health.
But here’s the thing – advice is not exactly a scarce commodity these days.
Sure, a lot of it is self-serving drivel, but there’s no denying the existence of extensive invaluable mental health resources populating the world wide web today. There’s magazines, there’s forums, there’s e-books and blogs, courses and apps, vlogs and channels, all filled with ideas on what to do to start feeling better again.
Advice on mental health is not only omnipresent, it’s practically inescapable.
Heck, most of the stuff on this very blog consists of strategies on how to get relief… It’s all genuine advice, advice I wish I was armed with before I got plunged into my personal waltz with hypochondria, but it’s advice nonetheless.
And while the ubiquitous presence of these mental health battle plans is, in principle, a good thing, their belligerent calls to action can have a detrimental effect on our psyche.
Because sometimes, external circumstances are bigger than our will; maybe we’re going through a vicious heartbreak, are experiencing profound loss, or have found ourselves in the throes of an existential crisis. In cases such as these, no amount of deep breathing or turmeric capsules will provide relief, even if we do manage to muster the willpower to act.
Sometimes we don’t really need advice – we need time.
An environment of violent urging can make us feel unnecessarily guilty. And when it comes to mental health, guilt is synonymous with a big block of marble tied to your neck when you’re trying to swim – it’s absolutely useless.
Then there’s times when everything seems to be in perfect order.
We’ve got a roof over our heads, hummus in our bellies, friends who make us laugh, a partner who is supportive… By all objective standards life is a smooth sail. And yet we feel down. Not only that, we feel down without having a particular reason for feeling down.
It’s important to realise that that’s okay too.
External advice will usually have us know that we should jump and tackle our melancholy head on. Our instincts however, tell a different story – deep down we know that striving to be happy at all costs isn’t only unrealistic, it’s hazardous. Pretending we are bigger than the sorrows of the world can lead to serious repercussions (a shattering breakdown being one of them).
Which is why sometimes, the best thing we can do to protect our mental health is to sit with ourselves and acknowledge the fact that sadness is one of the basic ingredients of life.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is say “fuck the advice…”
Yes, this is a plug, but I dare say it's a candid one, since I would never endorse something I don't personally use.
So, here it goes..
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Okay, end of plug.