I still remember the days when I would cry and my parents would tell me it's bad to cry and I will only become stupider. There has always been a stigma around mental health and it is about time we overcome that. It is already two years since the pandemic and it should have taught us that it is "okay" to not be okay…
I grew up hiding my crying spells and anxiety attacks in isolation. Whenever I felt like I was going to have a crying spell or an anxiety attack, I remember always hiding in a corner, hoping nobody saw. It almost became like a chore that I had to do. Whenever I had an outbreak, I would have to find a way to conceal it, or else the truth would come out.
I began to see my mental health struggles growing up as a "truth" that I was always struggling to conceal, whenever and wherever. As someone who grew up in an Asian culture, it was already taboo for any mental health symptoms to be shown in public, let alone spoken about. Although I have found ways to become more open about it, I still struggle with the stigma that has affected my experience with my mental health.
As someone who has seen how the stigma of mental health can prevent people from realizing that it is okay to become vulnerable, I have begun to cherish every opportunity that I can get to speak out about my mental health. Whether it is through a chat I am having with a friend or in a discussion on zoom, I have found ways to become more expressive about how I am feeling. I am no longer the girl that puts on a masquerade when she is asked if she is "okay." The metamorphosis has already taken place and I have become a soaring butterfly who is unafraid to speak their mind on how she is feeling at the moment.
But I'll admit, the metamorphosis wasn't quite an easy process. It took countless layers of cocoons to be shed and for new layers to embark in. Every time I lose a layer of the old cocoon, I would know that this still isn't the end and that there will be something new and more extraordinary taking its place. And with the new and more extraordinariness, comes more openness and a very hopeful stigma-free zone along the way.
Here are some ways below how we can start encountering this stigma in 2021.
-Be forthright about your feelings when someone asks how you are doing-It's become such a habit of not going into details when someone asks us how our day has been or how we are doing. We go right to giving one-word answers, rather than truly explaining how we feel. Although it is much easier to do the former, especially if we don't know the person we are talking to, that well, it is better to be revealing about how we are feeling, when asked.
-Don't stray away from mental health struggles-Although it is much easier said than done to "run away" from our problems, it is much better to face them head on. Especially if these problems can be a start to something more detrimental, it is important to seek help and make sure to be able to get access to help when you need it.
-Be knowledgeable about your mental health struggles and illnesses: When someone asks you about your mental health struggles and illnesses, they are likely asking, because they want to know more about it. Therefore, it is important to be condensed of the things that make up your struggles and illnesses, so that you can also better educate others and the public about your struggles and how they come to exist. This way you can learn more about your struggles, while also informing and giving others ways to prevent these things from happening to them.
In order to create something that is "new and extraordinary," we have to first get rid of the stigma that exists and is preventing that metamorphosis from happening