When was the last time you had an honest conversation with someone about your mental health? Like the same kind of conversation you’d have about your current diet or the cold you got on vacation? Maybe it goes something like this “well I wasn’t feeling too swell the other day but I made an appointment with my doctor and she’s going to get me sorted out next week”. Or. . . you can’t recall the last time you talked about mental health and maybe those you’ve tried to talk about it with didn’t understand you at all. Does that sound more familiar?
In my experience, there are often two mental health camps. But think of more like a vin diagram though because the camps overlap. There are the people who’ve either personally experienced mental health issues, have someone close to them who has or have gotten a good education on it. And then there are those who haven’t done any of the above or maybe they’ve put a toe in the water. They are more blissfully ignorant and scared than they are aware of the issues because they still have trouble wrapping their mind around it. Or they treat it like walking on egg shells.
Today’s post is for all of the above. Whether you’ve been struggling with your mental health for a while or you know someone who is trying to wrap their mind around how mental health illness work, they need this book. It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue and Other Lies is the mental health book everyone needs to read. Let’s talk about why.
It Gives You A First Hand Perspective
When I was in college, one of my many jobs was working as an assistant to a visually impaired man. I remember asking him if he had always been blind or if it had happened later in life. For him, it was later. His parents had both suffered with vision issues and his blindness occurred in his teens/early twenties I believe. Now obviously, blindness and mental illness are two different things. But as someone who once could see, he is fortunate enough to have a frame of reference for things. He KNOWS what the color blue looks like or the way water sits on a blade of grass. There is something for him to imagine when he listens to a book or someone describes Christmas.
Mental illness is something someone can tell you about. But Scarlett Curtis’ curation of stories into a mental illness book gives a frame of reference in a way that you probably wouldn’t find otherwise. The lies that we believe in a season of depression. The burdens we unnecessarily carry because we’ve been taught that we have to do it all alone. Or even the belief that just because we know about mental illness, we can avoid it.
It puts you INSIDE the mind of so many people in a way that makes it almost impossible for you to not find a story you identify with.
It Proves That Fame & Fortune Doesn’t Discriminate
Even if you never buy It’s Not Okay To Feel Blue, the contents pages alone show you that there is no such thing as discrimination. Everyone from Sam Smith to Emma Watson to Lena Dunham have written a story in this book about mental health. Ben Platt shares a beautiful poem about anxiety. Naomi Campbell, a super model, reminds you that it’s okay to not be okay. Emma Thompson gives a list of things that can help you combat depression and give you hope.
These beautiful, talented and well-loved people ALL have something to say in a book about mental health. You can be given the entire world but if you believe that you aren’t enough, it will never matter. If you mind delivers blow after blow of toxic thoughts or you find yourself caught in the comparison cycle, you too can find yourself struggling with your mental health. Money & fame might give you better access to doctors when you need surgery or have an injury. But your mind, it’s a battlefield of its own.
IT SHOWS YOU THAT EVEN PROFESSIONALS STRUGGLE
One of the first few stories in is written by a professional psychologist. She shares how teenage depression rates have increased by 70% in the last 25 years. She talks about our inability to be unhappy. And she even shares about how the most common cause of death for men age 19-44 is suicide. Dr. Tanya knows her shit.
And yet she found herself depressed. Clinically depressed. A woman who very clearly could write her own book about mental health found herself in a state of depression despite all her knowledge, experience and skills. You can be an oncology doctor and still get cancer. You can be a psychologist and still get depression. Even those of us who know still struggle.
IT PROVIDES COMMUNITY & INVITES DISCUSSION
I’ve always believed in open conversations here at WSS. If you haven’t read my posts about What It’s Like To Lose A Parent To Suicide or How To Grieve Through The Holidays, I’m not one to hold back. I don’t think not talking about the problem makes it any easier. But I also don’t think we always know how to put words to a problem. Sometimes we’re too close to the moment or the issue. We don’t have enough perspective or we haven’t seen it in the right way for it to click with us.
You might not realize that certain thoughts, feelings or emotions are linked to bigger things because they are normal for you. You’ve learned to live with them daily. And if no one else around you is openly chatting about their mental health, then how would you know. We literally don’t know what we don’t know. It’s Not Okay To Be Blue is like it’s own version of a mirror. You might discover things about yourself you never knew and finally be able to get help. Or for those of you who have friends who struggle with mental health, it’s an opportunity to understand the things that they don’t necessarily know how to say.
IT REMINDS US OF THE IMPORTANCE OF UNSEEN ILLNESSES
At the time I’m writing this post, the coronavirus is spreading. My email inbox is filled with reminders from yoga studios to not come in if you’re sick. Social media is filled with graphics about washing your hands and memes about vaccines. Chinese restaurants are taking serious financial hits because of the fear that a virus from China has ignited in people. This illness that’s spreading around the globe has sparked conversations, both happy & sad, about an illness we can’t “see”.
For many of us, we treat mental health and mental illness like religion. It doesn’t phase us until it happens to us. We don’t really get it or we think we do & never question our thoughts. But here’s the thing about mental health and why this book about mental health is something we all need: just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Imagine you have a cold. The sinus kind. It starts like it normally does with a runny nose or sore throat. You feel like crap but you don’t LOOK sick. Then you find yourself super congested, a box of tissues next to you and a strong desire to sleep. Again, you probably don’t look or sound sick. You know you’re sick but to the casual onlooker there’s nothing wrong. But then just as you’re starting to get better, the coughing starts. You know when you can finally breathe again, actually feel better and don’t really feel sick but people start to notice that you’re sick?
Your friend who cancelled on you every time this month or doesn’t return phone calls. What if she’s not flaky but she’s depressed? Your friend who looks like she’s lost weight and is finally taking care of herself. What if she hasn’t been eating because her depression has made her lose her appetite? It’s Not OK To Feel Blue and Other Lies reminds us that despite our perception of health, mental illness is often something we discredit, overlook or in some cases, don’t have enough experience with to know that we need to push back. And yet just like any other illness, it’s lying there in wait. Constantly.
Nevertheless, I hope that you’ll considering picking up a copy of Scarlett Curtis’ curation of stories. This post isn’t sponsored. She has no idea I’m writing this. If you’re someone struggling with a mental illness, this book might be something that helps open the doors the new conversations with those around you who are struggling to understand. Maybe you’re someone who feels like you’re the only person who is dealing with certain issues in your bubble, this book about mental health might remind you that you aren’t alone. Wherever you are in your journey today, I hope that at the very least today reminded you that there is no one who is above taking care of their mental health. Myself included. And if you feel so inclined, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below. Until next time. Xoxo, Savvy
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