Thought Catalog
March 5, 2014

Mental Health Is Normal (And So Are You)

Report This Article
What is the issue?
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

I wrote this because I thought it might help.

There’s a stigma around mental health that makes it hard to approach. People understand that, but they approach it from the outside when the real struggle is internal. How does one self-diagnose mental health issues, like depression or ADD when their own brain is the standard? When you’ve lived your entire life with depression or anxiety, it’s hard to understand. Like being in a dream, you go along with it. Making sense doesn’t sound right, but it feels right, and you follow those instincts.

Feelings come first, and facts follow only after the fact.

Next, many mental health issues emerge with puberty, and adjusting to them can feel normal. Teenagers are moody, right? That’s why you’re depressed! But when it drifts through your twenties, when it deepens and pairs with anxiety and mood-swings, years of practice have dulled your actual instincts to the point that feels normal.

But you are normal. Okay? Really.

I get it, though. That’s the eternal struggle with mental health; to seek help would be to admit you are “wrong,” and you can’t have that. But you can’t accept that either; you know, vaguely, you’d like to improve. So forever you sit in limbo, fearing you’re a freak without daring to take a plunge into what you view as permanent, serious change that you imagine to be a betrayal of self.

Calm down. It ain’t that serious.

First, if you’re thinking “I get this” that’s because I’m right there with you. And if you’re thinking, “wow, what a coincidence” you should know it’s not because I am some rare member of a hidden world, but because mental health is super normal and so are you.

Okay? You are. We’ve got you. There’s an e-list.

There’s a freedom in community, and a deep breathe to know that, as personal as this issue is for you- and it is for everyone- there is a plurality of understanding people struggling with the same questions and issues as you are, not to mention quite a few you aren’t. Hopefully that helps. Next, medication is medication. The same way a vitamin doesn’t change you as a person, proper medication doesn’t change you as a person- it just helps keep you healthier, the way a vitamin might.

It doesn’t change who you are; it just gives your best self a better chance to shine. When done right, it doesn’t change you- it removes the limitations that kept you back, or, more realistically, helps to push back at a moderate, balanced level.

Nobodies perfect, and that’s normal too.

Of course, some medications can be wrong, misused, or come with side effects. That’s a real thing, and that concern can often be paralyzing. That’s part of what gives mental health it’s unfair shine; we both fear the issue and are equally afraid of seeking help and the help itself. So, allow me to shed some light: some things can help, and some can hinder. It’s a gamble. But it’s a gamble that you control; this is gambling with a card counter in a casino you own while you’re picking their pockets. You shouldn’t be reckless in both, but if you go steady and careful, the gains will cut the losses.

If you pay attention to the idea of help and your issues, you’ll find they both become less scary then if you skirt around them. Your issue is normal, and that alone should help. But the demystification of acknowledgement and the separate demystification of the help available should help you in both regards.

It’s normal, and things can help in simple, manageable ways that keep you true to yourself. Really. And professionals who are experts in this field are ready to help. First, a therapist is like a personal trainer; it’s something a lot of people could use, expensive, and something everyone’s afraid to get started with. And while both might leave you a little sore, both can make you feel better in ways you didn’t know possible.

Next, a psychiatrist who can help you find the right medication is just like any other doctor. And, I don’t know about you, but doctors cured polio. Polio! It’s worth considering the possibility they can help you too.

Look; there’s no magic cure-all or even standard for mental health, but that alone should be comforting. It’s a gentle, loving reminder of two fantastic truths. Not only are you normal and fine at a very fundamental level, but on top of that crucial, comforting fact is the bonus, knowledge that things could help.

Lastly, feel free to reach out to me. Not only do I have a lot of experience with mental health, but it helps calm down my anxieties to help. If you need help, or advice, or an ear to email that’s up late, you would be doing me a very real favor by reaching out. Nothing calms me down like explaining why you’re fine. TC mark