If we stripped away the shame, I think we all would want it. To be fully seen. To bravely unveil ourselves to others, all imperfection included.
To turn the struggles that we stifle, shove down, and avoid addressing into a shade of nude, rather than nakedness.
What goes on beneath our skin, behind the polite smiles and instinctual “good” we reply with, is vital that we not only pay attention to, but share with others. Across society, mental health gets a bit swept under the rug, doesn’t it? It’s the easiest issue to put in the corner and say, “I’ll get to you later”. It is dangerously quiet, and often unnoticeable.
Within our culture, there can be pressure to only show a highlight reel, maintain a certain “brand composure”, or simply not cause too much noise. In some areas around the world, addressing mental health issues can become a luxury in the face of mere survival. But the reality we are all living in doesn’t align with this attitude. It demands more. Depression alone is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 300 million globally (World Health Organization). Nearly half of those with depression are diagnosed with anxiety as well. In the US, anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults across the nation (ADAA).
What perhaps is more striking is that even though anxiety and depression are highly treatable, many are without help. Only 36.9% of those suffering with anxiety alone receive treatment - barely over one third. And as women, we are twice as likely to be affected by generalized anxiety disorder than men (ADAA). It’s easy to go down this statistics rabbit hole and want to throw our hands up in helplessness.
But is it possible we could simultaneously recognize the weight of this need we must address, and see potential in the fact that there is something that can be done?
Now is the time to stand With one another, shed the stigmas, and get honest about where we’re at. We must ruthlessly look after our sisters, and ourselves, who are struggling with these debilitating issues. It begins with an ear. With an eye to eye gaze and an empathetic heart. As someone who has been truly struggling with anxiety for the majority of the past year, I can tell you that just genuinely showing up and extending a hand is incredibly meaningful. Mental health issues do not have an easy, one-size-fits-all cure. Dealing with them is a process, and sometimes a longer one than we imagine. So, let’s start walking through it together.
Join us this month to sit with others in the midst of their experience. Let’s learn how to love our friends, families, peers, and communities in the way they need it most. We’ll work to dismantle stereotypes, and empower those who feel alone to speak up. Even in our differences, we are more alike than not. Each of us desires to be seen. This space is one you can come to unfiltered. We welcome you, all of you, and will not let you drift by unnoticed.
Photos by: Cacá Santoro