I’m Trapped in My Life… Get Me Out!
A Shared Struggle
I’ve had the unique privilege of connecting with millions of people worldwide over the topic of suicide prevention after a video of mine went viral on Facebook, and I see from all the comments and messages that mental illness is a silent killer. Countless people quietly suffer, trying to be strong for their family and friends, afraid to talk about their pain. Somewhere out there, a single mother of 3 feels like a failure and is struggling to hold it together. A teenager feels unloved and insignificant in this huge world. A war veteran struggles to re-assimilate to every-day life. Depression does not discriminate, and it can be hard to pick ourselves up sometimes.
“Okay Fine… HELP!”
I don’t like help. Who needs help? I’m a grown ass man. I got this shit. I can handle my feelings. Matter of fact, what feelings? I’m a rock. I’m a boulder…
…A boulder sliding backwards down the side of a mountain.
Why is mental health associated with weakness instead of power? The stigma attached to a therapist is enough to drive people away. Before I experienced it for myself, when someone would say they see a therapist, the first question that naturally comes to my mind is, “Why?” Then I’d start considering, “is this person unstable? Are they crazy? Did a judge order them to go see a therapist?” I had no positive reference as to why someone could see a therapist without being certified crazy first. I never knew how much I would benefit from having a safe space, too.
A Safe Space
Imagine a place where you can speak your soul and be heard without any judgement or chance of it coming back to bite you. A place where you can vent your true feelings about about your boss, about your husband or wife, even about your kids. Think of all the things you feel inside that you wanted to say but couldn’t, wouldn’t, or shouldn’t say. Imagine a place where it’s okay to feel those things for a while and eventually you can relieve that pain and return to your life refreshed.
For me, half of the value of going to therapy is having a safe space. I had pretty cool friends and a pretty supportive family, it’s not like I felt unsafe around them. But sometimes they were the ones frustrating me and I needed to go somewhere else. Sometimes I needed to talk about something personal, something that might make my friends or family look at me differently if I brought it up. Sometimes I needed more help than my people were able to give me. Either way, I was able to dump my stress with a therapist, process my emotions, and come back to my life with a new perspective. The people in my life were less affected by my negativity; for a while, no one even knew I was seeing a therapist, but they reaped the benefits of a happier me.
Part of my goal with this article is to help create a safe space for important conversations about our mental health. I believe it would benefit everyone if we talked openly about mental health, but the stigma often drives away the conversation. Many people feel the world is still not a safe space for that kind of vulnerability, that it can cause more harm than good. Maybe they’re right, but my experience has been different. Despite the risk of sharing my feelings, my life depends on it.
Where to Start
Calling your Local Warm Line could be a great place to begin the search for a safe place. This is a local resource for mental health needs. They can spend time on the phone and help you cope, even if it’s not an emergency. (The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available for emergencies at 1-800-273-8255). The Warm Line itself could even become a safe place for some people. Help is more accessible and affordable than some might think, and there are many options available depending on your needs. Click here to download my Mental Health Checklist with a list of contacts for mental health needs.
Last but definitely not least, as a Christian I feel the best place to have all of these needs met is through spiritual support. Depression is a reflection of our spirit more than our physical circumstances. The Bible is an infinite source of encouragement and wisdom for me, and nothing beats finding a really supportive church family. The church that has helped me develop a healthy, meaningful relationship with God is the International Christian Church in Los Angeles. If you are open to building a more resilient spirit through a relationship with God, I would encourage you to look up the ICC location nearest you!
Here’s to us all finding a safe place and keeping it sacred.
Stay in tune