Today, a friend of mine marks having been alive for a quarter of a century.
Last night, she went to sleep hoping she didn’t wake up, as she has every night for the past two years.
She knows she has a mental illness, she’s engaging with conventional treatment – but perhaps the healthiest thing she’s doing is calling a community around her by being open and honest about the fact that it’s hard, that she doesn’t want to be here, that she hurts.
Think of it like this; if you’re caught up in some kind of disaster – a bomb blast, for example – and you’re wandering around looking a bit dazed, maybe cut and bleeding, and a medic asks if you’re okay, and you say “yes, I’m fine, really, there are people hurt far worse”, the medic will move on. You won’t get treated. And maybe you’ll end up dying from the internal bleeding you didn’t know about, because you were so positive and focused on the poor people who were visibly and badly hurt.
You don’t need to have a mental illness to ask for help, to ask for things to be changed, to express frustration – in fact, research has started to show that, if you express “negative” emotions, you’re likely to be mentally more resilient, if not mentally healthier. (Check out The Article That Started It All, over on our Links page). If you’re always positive, and nothing ever needs to be changed, then guess what? You’ll spend your life seething with frustration about all the things that are wrong, while plastering a bright, fake smile over everything.
Negativity is not wrong. Negativity is a pain signal – it’s a call to action.