In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (May), one of the partnered streamers on the Mixer platform, where I’ve been known to hang out, put together a special 7-hour (come and go as you please) event featuring other streamers telling their stories of dealing with sometimes physical but often invisible mental health issues. Its intent was to bring both awareness and compassion about these issues and how people have learned to cope with them.
I went at the very beginning of the event, as the music streamer I adore was ending her streaming session and sending us over there with a host to show our support. It was nice to be there with people who were familiar to me, and I saw a few other familiar people from other streams I also visit.
Several hundred people were there while I was. It was pretty awesome that so many people showed up offering their support. Some of the people in the chat were also sharing a little bit of their own issues, but mostly the chat was full of kind words and a lot of ‘heart’ displays, offering love and encouragement.
But here’s what happened….. After about an hour and several different people sharing their stories, that voice inside my head started rearing its ugly self, and I found myself questioning why I sometimes feel bad for the ways my mental health plagues me, when all of these people had it SO MUCH WORSE than I do! I listened to a man with Tourette’s Syndrome talk about being bullied and the effect it had on his mental health. I listened to a woman who had ignored her mental health so forcefully that it began to affect her physically and she now suffers with tremors in her arm as a result. I watched a couple do an almost comedic skit about anxiety and panic attacks (I’ve had one panic attack, many years ago now). And as I began processing their stories, that voice shouted at me, “Geez, Jody, you’ve got nothing to feel bad about! Pull up your big-girl panties and just get over it already!”
But that’s not really the worst of it. That voice, usually internalized and directed at me, now finds itself wanting to shout those same words to other people. I have a dear friend, whom I love and adore, who has repeatedly mentioned on social media that she “needs a pool!” She is an avid swimmer, and someone who works at keeping her body toned. And I understand on most levels how frustrated she is because an important part of her life has been sidelined for the foreseeable future. Yet, I can’t help but compare that with people who have lost far more and fight not to respond with, “Pull up your big-girl panties and just get over it already!”
I don’t like that person when I look at her in the mirror. It’s not who I am. In my own life, I remind myself daily to be grateful to have the things I need – housing and food and basic necessities, income that provides for my basic needs – and try not to focus on things I want. I mean, in my eyes, I really need a haircut, but getting one is not life-sustaining. I need to get my nails done because they are now so long that they get in my way, but I could do a botched-up job of cutting them myself and manage to survive. I desperately need a hug from my brother, but as long as I keep telling myself that it will come – in time – I’m able to hang on.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important that we vent our frustrations – far better than letting them bottle up inside us. But we all are dealing with frustrations over the pandemic, not to mention the frustration of great political turmoil here in the US. For our own sanity, at some point, don’t we need to face the fact that “it is what it is” and figure out how to deal with it? Or at the very least, how not to let it control us?
I’d be very interested in how my readers are dealing with their frustrations and managing to cope. Please share in the comments. And hey, thanks for listening to me vent mine! <smile>