Put On A Happy Face

Since I was a little girl, I have always had a fascination with clowns. The concept of being able to dress yourself in a suit of happiness and rainbows seemed like an amazing idea. As I got older, my fascination grew, and I started to understand why I loved them so much. Clowns, in my perspective, are the individuals who put on these imaginary costumes and make up to distract the world from the feelings they are really dealing within.

From an early age, I discovered my fascination with human behavior and emotion; I started researching mental health and became enthralled with learning about its role in relation to self-concept and human connection. While I can recognize how important human connection is and that everyone’s brain works a little different, I was confused to why adults were so reluctant to talk about mental health.

I went through my “emo days” and have my fair share of “mental illness”. I still have and cope with anxiety, depression, untreated ADHD, and who knows what else. However, unlike many in society, I’m more open about talking about it because of the education I have been privy to and all the personal and professional experiences I have had. But while I may be okay about talking about mental health and mental illness, interestingly enough, I started noticing that when I would bring up the subject with others, they would brush off and deflect from the topic or not understand what I was talking about.

As many strides society has made in the acceptance and treatment of mental illness, the stigma surrounding mental health is astonishing given that mental health has probably been around since the beginning of human existence. It is disturbing how many individuals refuse to have open conversations regarding mental health concerns they might have for themselves due to this stigma. It’s easy for me to say that I do not care what others think about me, but do I really mean it? Truth is, I don’t know if I do but I will continue to put on my clown costume and pretend it doesn’t.

Earlier this week, I was excited to finally see the new Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix, a film I had been anxiously anticipating since its announcement. Joaquin Phoenix executed the Joker flawlessly that I forgot that I was watching a DC movie about an iconic villain from the Batman series. As I sat through the film and watched, I was surprised at how much the film really hit home and the power behind its message. The film really showed the power of mental health and how it builds through an individual. It allowed the audience to see how the world impacts an individual. It opened the topic of social work programs closing due to funding and how individuals lose access to therapy and medication in an instant. How many individuals have I worked with that due to funding and lack of services got to the point of no return? By no return, I mean homelessness, self-medicating, death, and more. Seeing Hollywood highlight real life realities was astonishing and a beautiful feat.

I am excited that mental health is becoming a hot topic that many are finally open to talk about. My hope is that these conversations continue, and programs gain more funding to help those in need. I will continue to support and advocate for mental health because at the end of the day , the stigma it is shrouded in is still very real but instead of pushing it away and hiding from the discomfort of talking about mental health, lets’ bring it to light and learn to love it in the right way! Education is key to real change. I know that I am not alone and that no one is alone; help is out there.

If you feel that you do not understand mental health but feel that you might need additional resources reach out to your doctor or contact a hotline. Its important to get rid of this stigma and realize that we are all human and its ok to ask for help.

Link to resources USA: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml

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