Never judge a book by its cover
To everyone as I walk by on the street, I seem like a normal twenty-something year old female. I am (almost always) smiling, energetic, and outgoing. You would never assume I was feeling or experiencing anything different, right? Over the past month and a half, although happy with everything, I have in fact been experiencing a lot of pain. I injured my deep core/pelvic floor area and everything has become a challenge. Things that I have taken for granted like walking and biking have become more difficult to accomplish than I could have ever imagined. My job is also a challenge as I have to be physically active for everything I do. Although I remind my participants ahead of time that I am injured I am often curious if people wonder why I seem to be ‘taking it easy’. Or if I am on the street and I may be walking slower than normal that people look at me and wonder why.
I know that when I tell people they understand, but if I didn’t tell anyone beforehand, how would I be perceived? I then think about all of the stigma around mental health and truly cannot imagine what it must be like for someone experiencing challenges from within to be understood on the outside. An injury like mine, while physical and painful to experience, is nothing compared to something going on within ourselves that perhaps we can’t as simply explain or won’t be understood when we do.
As someone who has experienced a lot of anxiety, it is something I have only been exposed to in a minor way. People would be baffled that I suffered from anxiety because in their mind I have always been happy and outgoing. I often received questions like, “how could someone like you have anxiety?!”.
Let’s all take a moment and think about a time where we have probably judged someone or misunderstood a situation. Did we know what was really going on? Did we ask that person or just assume? Often times with mental health when someone responds in a way we aren’t expecting, instead of asking if they need support, we judge.
It is important that social media has taken action and brought the topic of mental health to the forefront but now rather than just talking about it we need to put our actions into play. It is one thing to be aware of the growing number of people experiencing mental health struggles but it is another to actively do something about it. We need to listen more and talk less. Empathize more and judge less. Support one another and run away less. Who are we to ever judge a book by its cover? We all have ‘things’ in our lives that will bring us down. For some it might be a tough situation in our lives currently, for others it may be a daily battle that we always have to fight. Let’s lift each other up and be there for one another. After all, we are all just human beings trying to make the most of this one life we have got to live.
Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.