The pandemic is a great example of how our well-being affects our lives and impact our physical health. Both physical and mental health are very important and should be taken seriously.
Quite often when growing up, it seemed my feelings and thoughts didn't really matter. In addition, it seemed like I had no voice for quite a while. It wasn't until I became a teenager that I realized it was time to break through. Accepting that way of living was no longer an option for me. I had to choose my sanity above all.
For my closest childhood friends, this is a well-known story of my personal wake-up call. However, 2020 brought a rude awakening upon an entire civilization. We are left with no other choice than to deal with it. The good news is that many have grown tired of silently holding onto their pain, including feelings they have been carrying for a considerable part of their lives.
As the youngest sibling and only girl growing up, I constantly felt left behind by the brothers I looked up to. Even though they didn't dedicate time to spend with me, I still loved them. As a young child, my understanding of love was to accept however I was regarded by the people I loved. I believed that their treatment was simply their way of expressing their love for me. So, I trained myself to take it.
That mindset, however, didn't stop me from feeling hurt. For a while, I just smiled at them. Nonetheless, deep inside it was nothing but a desperate attempt to be liked or show that I could belong even if I didn't really felt like I did.
I shared with my parents how my siblings’ treatment was affecting me. I thought I was supposed to do that—open up to my progenitors and seek help, support, and advice. Even when I told them the unkind words my brothers used to label me, they brushed it off.
“Don't pay any attention to what your brothers say,” Mom would suggest. “Just call them names as well . . . If they call you fat, just tell them it's better to be fat than a moving stack of bones like them!”
Despite the fact that her advice seemed a bit off, I had to confess she did have a good point. So, I tried to follow her guidance. Nonetheless, trying to hurt them back wasn't working. At the end of the day, it didn't change the way I was feeling.
Eventually, it got to a point where I felt like my parents believed I was making a big deal out of nothing. After a while, I gave up talking to them about it. Feeling like an inconvenience, I suppressed my feelings since they seemed to be irrelevant to anyone else.
Once I finally reached my boiling point, I let it out, and honestly, it wasn't a pretty sight. When I released all the anger I had built up inside over the years, I felt like a dragon spitting fire. And releasing it felt pretty good!
I have been applying all the lessons I learned during my childhood. To me, expressing my feelings is as vital as any other basic need. I simply refuse to keep any pain or negative feelings or thoughts within. They just don't belong there . . . I like to say that I became some sort of a problem solver when it comes to the things floating inside of my head or to anything that makes my heart uneasy.
Therefore, I erroneously failed to realize that unlike me, some do not process or express their feelings, thoughts, and emotions as I do; that it is not easy for everyone.
Regardless of their reasons, it was only after I posted a couple of live stories on social media during the pandemic that I realized how many dear friends were hurting.
My primary goal in sharing a personal experience online was to express that, in times like these—abruptly forced to distance ourselves from one another and people started to completely lose it—a simple act of kindness was enough to turn someone's day into something good and positive.
Simply by opening up, sharing my own feelings, and not being ashamed of showing my vulnerabilities, I unwittingly opened a door that no longer could be shut. And I am glad about it. When my friends started to reach out to me and express how they were feeling and the struggles they had been dealing with even prior to the coronavirus, I was able to be there for them, even if I didn't have the power to take their pain away.
What inspired me to write this post was that, during the first half of this year as we started to get affected by restrictions and the idea of social distancing was imposed on us all, I began listening to the radio, something I hadn't done in years. That was a way I coped with loneliness, since having to be distanced from my friends was impacting me so much. I actually started to enjoy the conversations of the radio hosts; they became my company.
A couple of weeks ago, as I headed to the park for a run with a couple of friends, the radio was on in my car. I realized that instead of music there was a long conversation and the program basically consisted of many sharing how they were fighting depression and dealing with personal struggles.
That made me realize that the subject was being addressed and taken seriously. People are starting to realize that talking about how they feel is a great way to facilitate the healing process. I couldn't be happier to witness such a thing happening in a society where it seems it’s all about how others perceive us.
We are becoming more concerned about fixing ourselves rather than impressing others. The truth is, striving for perfection can be the greatest wall between us, while vulnerability builds a bridge that makes us feel connected to one another.
It pleases me to see this simply because people are more interested in internal peace, healing, and happiness than showing the world they’ve got it all together. No one does. One thing I learned from my early life experiences is that while pain is something I do not have control of, choosing to suffer is.
Therefore, I express myself regardless of what people will think of me. At the end of the day, I am the only one who truly knows how I feel and there's no point in wasting my time trying to hide it. Given that my body is entirely responsible for carrying my soul, others’ perception of me or my life doesn't turn change reality. And that goes both ways; for good or bad.
In the same line of thought, once I understood how fundamental it was to express myself, I had to find a way of releasing it. Conversations with my friends have been the most effective way for me, given that I can hear their feedback, but I also write, run, or simply enjoy nature—whatever option is available at the time. After all, if I do not care for myself or my mental health who else will?
The fact is: We are the only ones responsible for our happiness and peace of mind.
The opportunity to acquire self-awareness when facing our feelings and emotions allows us to evolve as a person and provide support to our friends dealing with their own issues. This exchange, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful things in life!
If you haven't yet, give yourself a chance to heal. Give it a try, at least. Don't stand inert hoping for a miracle.
Fight for yourself. Strive for a better life!