Gentle reader, a simple question: How open and honest are you? With others? With yourself?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. There is not necessarily a good answer or a bad answer. But there is no harm in asking yourself this question, every once in while. Nor in giving yourself an open and honest answer. You don’t need to let anyone else know your answer.
In the spirit of being open and honest, I would have to say that over the past few months, I feel as though my life has changed. Not necessarily for the better.
In many areas of life, I feel as if I have taken steps into what is for me uncharted and – in all frankness – frightening territory. Some of these steps have been forced by circumstance. Others have been through my own choice.
One deliberate step into uncharted territory was my decision to be open and honest about what I am going through in the words that I write and share on this blog.
Trying to put all this into words
I have found myself on an unexpected mental health journey these past few months. I decided to start writing about what I am going through shortly after I first sought professional help.* I am so glad that at that point in time, I was open and honest with myself about needing help with what I was going through. I thought I could handle it all. Until I knew that I couldn’t.
I may not be in a great place with my mental health now. But it is chilling to think of the state I might be in if I hadn’t sought help.
Trying to put all this into words is not easy. It is frightening to me to be this open, this vulnerable. I am trying to write about what I am finding to be difficult times while I am in the midst of them. I am doing this in part to make sense of what I am going through, but mainly in the hope that it might be of help to someone else. I want to write in case even one other soul might learn from my cautionary tale.
No matter what you are going through, no matter how lonely or isolated you might feel in the moment, you are never alone.
You are never alone.
I was amazed to discover over recent weeks and months that my friends Gurprriet Siingh and Jay Kuhns – two gents I respect and admire to the nth degree – are on similar paths of openness and honesty. Each is going through testing times. Each has decided to be open and honest about what they are experiencing in the moment, in the hope that it might be of some help to others.
Over the past few months, Gurprriet Siingh has also found himself on an unexpected mental health journey. He explains why he chose this path of openness in a recent Times of India podcast appearance (which I quoted in Mental health first response):
“I realised that many people don’t even recognise what’s going on. And I’ve been through it. I’ve fought my own battles. And I thought that maybe if I shared. it’d give more courage or maybe it’d give a platform to others. So I thought, let me go out there and begin a conversation and create a platform, make it feel safer for others to do the same, so they can get in touch. So that’s what it was really. Just giving back.”
At the exact same time, Jay Kuhns is navigating a period of profound change and transformation in many areas of his life. Like me, Jay is blogging his way through this. Jay recently wrote about one key aspect of his struggle: The gap between how others perceive him and how he frequently feels during these uncertain times. Jay writes that others see him as someone who can be “relied upon to be the one full of energy and enthusiasm”. He is unflinchingly honest about his coping mechanisms:
“In the end I’ve conditioned myself to quietly whisper in my head ‘that’s not allowed’ when I’m not feeling myself. It’s just easier to showcase my acting skills than it is to answer a flurry of questions and have those around me wondering what is going on in my head.”
Please do consider following both Gurprriet and Jay, and sending them some words of moral support. I find endless inspiration in the openness and honesty displayed by these two gentlemen. I hope that you might, too
You are never alone. No matter how alien, how unfamiliar the path on which you find yourself, others have been there before you, and others will follow you.
May you be nothing but kind today, to others and to yourself.
May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.
- Mental health (NHS) Information and support for your mental health from the NHS.
- Information and support (Mind) Resources from Mind, the UK mental health charity.
- NAMI Homefront (NAMI) Online resources from US charity NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
- SANE Australia Visit the site of this “national mental health charity making a real difference in the lives of people affected by complex mental health issues”.
* I have written about my ongoing mental health journey (begat my spiking stress and anxiety levels) in the following posts: Into the infinity of thoughts; Renewal; and No words?; Mental health first response; Glorify; In our darkest hours; and At the heart of things.