"Are you OK?"
Hats off to those who have the courage to reveal when they don't have their shit together.
I recall my 9th grade English class where I judged two classmates for sleeping during class. Little did I know, they were suffering from concussions. In my sports-focused high school, concussions were a common occurrence, but I didn't fully grasp the impact until I experienced one myself in the 10th grade. The symptoms, such as constant headaches, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating, were intense and made the recovery period a long and frustrating journey. On top of dealing with these symptoms, I felt as though there was a true disconnect between how I felt and appeared to others, who thought I was fine. Fast forward couple years later, I came to realize that suffering in hiding was a common theme in a concussion injury as it is with depression. Both have symptoms that are invisible.It wasn't until I experienced a concussion and depression first hand that my perspective underwent a drastic shift. I understood the value and significance of showing empathy towards those around me, as we tend to have no knowledge of the private challenges someone may be facing.
In this era of social media, there's a clear divide between "Instagram vs Reality" where people present a curated version of their life online and hide their struggles. This can lead to societal pressure to appear perfect and criticism for not doing so. The recent attention on mental health from public figures like Meghan Markle and Stephen Boss (tWitch) highlights the devastating reality of suffering in silence and the importance of breaking the stigma around mental health.
Perhaps the first step must be to highlight and encourage open and honest discussions about mental health and not viewing it as taboo. Compassion and kindness can only facilitate this conversation and bring fourth the ability to listen to each other, and check in with our loved ones. A simple question like "Are you OK?" can make a big difference. Let's not judge a book by its cover. Let's destigmatize mental health by encouraging open conversations before it's too late.