Birthdays, holidays, milestones in achievement, all celebrations we inherently participate in for ourselves and others. What if we – and by we, I mean those like myself who find their mental wellness to be an enigma still being solved at times – what if we took a moment, or a day, or a week, to celebrate our own mental health milestones? I mean the real, raw, nitty-gritty “stuff” that consumes us for which we overcome. Is THIS how we as a society might finally break the stigma of mental illness? Could it be…
We have spent a year in a hard “mental health zone” of constant change, challenges, and chores we never expected to become part of our daily lives. Many of us were finding a rhythm of existence before this hellish year of tribulations, so for some, the river grew deeper to trudge in, and others, the river grew wider to cross and reach those goals of overall health. I hope for all there have been a couple of flotation devices in your mental health journey along the way.
I challenge us all to make March a month to – hear me out – CELEBRATE! Yes, you read that correctly. Not to celebrate the losses of our day-to-day lives or the loss of loved ones in some cases, but the footsteps we walked in this last year. We freaking survived to make it this far. I am pausing to celebrate my overall mental wellness, despite continually having ups and downs. I had rough patches all along before 2020, and I remember dark days in the thick of March or April or August of the last year when I was engulfed in anxiety and uncertainties. I definitely considered my prior prescriptions for my own mental health and well-being, and if you take one, CELEBRATE living in an era where that’s an option.
My celebration will actually be typified by one word, taking it back to Brenè Brown, and that is vulnerability. I once had a horrendously egocentric boss who would only idealize projects or concepts in which her staff looked like full-blown experts outwardly to students and parents. No outward visual of any uncertainty was ever allowed. There was never an allowance of, “Ya know, let me look into that more and get back to you.” Answers had to be given – even if – at times – it meant stating untrue facts, solely on the notion that giving a fake but certain response was better than having to seem like we might have actually to check on something. I recall bringing up the idea that, “Vulnerability is a good thing for kids we service to witness. It shows them it’s okay not to be perfect and not have all the answers. What if we sought feedback from our peers in doing _____ activity?” I was shot down immediately. I was made to feel like such an idea as showcasing vulnerability was preposterous. Because that would drive home a subliminal message that it’s OKAY not to be perfect (which was very much the opposite of the mind frame in that high socioeconomic community), this was years ago, well before the era of mental health renegades have since come along to save us all from having to live amid status quo. I bet that boss (which, by the way, was a BOSS, not a LEADER) has had to eat some humble pie in the last twelve months. What I wouldn’t give to lead a mental health professional development and incite those experts who have cashed in on MILLIONS in a “told ya so” forum. But I digress.
The end-game here is…well, wait, there is no END GAME. We are left to our mental health wellness for the entirety of our lives. Think about that. We celebrate graduations after years of work. We celebrate the birth of a baby after months in the womb, but what about the milestones in our brain’s achievements that will be ongoing…forever? You have made it this far, KEEP. GOING. And turn back on occasion and look how far you have come.
To that, I implore us all…TO CELEBRATE THIS JOURNEY!!
“You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” -Brenè Brown