Self Discovery Vs. Mental Health: The Great Divide

Mental health is a huge trigger word right now in our world. It’s gaining traction, rightfully so, but sometimes in a way that deflects any true self discovery. Before you get all analytical on that statement just try to read with an open mind.

I am reading this book right now, Untamed. Yes I know I drank the koolaid; but to be fair– what a name. Glennon Doyle, like close the damn curtain, cut the lights and give this woman a damn award with that name. She writes of liberation. Many take liberation in so many different ways. It’s like map quest, 17 different ways which way you want? Well if you take this way its the fastest, but route 102 has the best ice cream stand, and country 436, well that’s mama’s house, no regrets ever stopping there for some ice tea.

My point is… Liberation may look like Sunday’s best to Susie Q over in Richmond, while Betty Lou’s salvation is simply walking to the local bee hive and getting fresh honey every Wednesday with Bert. Your freedom is unique, and cannot be understood. Your freedom is just that, yours.

This book has made me realize a few things, and want to challenge a few things.

Realization: you are truly all alone in your heart and mind. What a ride. Stop forcing your hand to those who never want to peek inside, who rather use you like a mandolin for their next big move. What a cool notion to trust yourself. Like let’s take a step back: You are walking through the grocery store, you look at ingredients, check the calories, what the fuck is xanthun gum? You chose most of your items within the realm of nutrition or price. Lets’ not lie to one another. I will eat a turkey bologna all day long because weight watchers tells me its zero points, even though it costs me an arm and a leg. Who is telling me there is methodology to this? I want a crunch wrap supreme not a turkey dog. And when you go home with seventeen turkey dogs in your belly, you’ll dream of that crunchwrap. You are alone in despair because someone told you turkey dogs were the way to go; you force yourself to trust the outside, over the one and only thing you wake up to time and time with again every day, YOU. When all the while, I could have just had the crunch wrap for lunch then a salad for dinner, nullifying the turkey dogs all together. Balance; Namaste.

Challenges: Society. Lets take freedom of speech for example: We are in a delicate era of taking a hard look at what harms may be normalized. Through this war being waged on magnifying norms, speech has been recognized as a weapon. Being a racist, misogynist, homophobe, those are identified through words and by speech not just actions. It only takes 120 characters or less to label the average joe a sexist. How you speak can define you. Glennon does a graceful job pointing that out in herself when talking of race in one of her chapters. She points out that our society breeds -isms. Heres my hitch: Who gets to decide which -ism you are? Like I’m well aware that society is a thing, but what happens in your four walls, where you were raised well, that’s got everything to do with it.

You’re probably sitting here thinking what a dumbass, society has everything to do with the four walls you asshole. Hear me out:

Society is structure, its a lay of the land, a set of rules or social norms to abide by. Many ancient cultures have forms of government that today we may translate differently. For example (to me anyways), The commandments. To me, were written as a form of law to abide. Everything good needs structure, boundaries, respect.

Society is a beast that many of us complain about but fall in compliance with. We say all the right words about society, yet our behaviors and actions surrender to society. “I can’t believe what our phones are doing to our youth” meanwhile you get a notification on your weekly screen time increase of 7%, 4 hours and 23 minutes DAILY.

So many are so quick to feel and portray the defense strategy they’ve perfected, when really they should be ready and fully engaged with the Arctic plan, Chill. The Dali Lama, yes I know, color me what you will, but there’s something he has determined through his famine and being an icon for the people, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But, if you listen, you may learn something new.”

When we turtle ourselves and show our defense mechanisms, we only demonstrate what we know. God forbid we sloe down, become vulnerable, don’t deploy the ole faithful tactic we’ve fine-tuned; rather seek truth in something coming in our direction at the expense of the most recent version of ourselves. “Society” has bred people who hate to shed their skin. Stick to what you know, even in change, you maneuver uncharted waters with your old methods of rowing and sailing. And when I mention this society I mean generationally of course. Each set of parents in each generation leave their legacy. Previous generation than mine: “get your ass inside when the street lights come on” “you finish your plate there are starving people in Africa” “Hard work doesn’t come easy, but its worth it.” all the while when they were my age they just came off a ten year bender of the 60’s into the 70’s.

What I mean is society is hard to umbrella, yet we have a tendency to do so anyways. Instead society is actually the one thing that isn’t prejudice and waits for no one, it’s time. It does what it does for those opinions on one side while something completely different for those on the other side. It actually is fluid. We blame something that multiple people, and personalities captain; these personalities lie on all ends of the spectrum. And yet, we use it as a tool of excuse, reason and answer–like its concrete and factual.

Back to this book I’m reading, it does however hit the nail on the head of influencers of society. Big activists tend to save the ones drowning in the river; but to stop the drowning we must look up river. This is why or where people start to blame society.

Society is driven by consumerism. If we as consumers decide one day to not like iPhones, well their stock would drop and iPhones would be irrelevant. But we don’t, and therefore make the rich more rich, the poor more poor. We are the divide. When people say, you are not saving the world by taking a shorter shower, I profoundly disagree because if us as consumers decide to lower our water bill, keep money in our pockets and take navy’s regularly, well, we WOULD save the world. If we decide to eat more plants, buy less new and more used, downsize, we will save our world with out any push from anything but society, because WE are society, WE determine society. We let the big names win, we buy into what they are selling and then complain about inequality and speak against our choice of privilege.

I think all of this stops our self discovery. We buy into so much of society’s big propaganda (whatever is peaking our insecurities –because you won’t look at a weight-loss blog if you are happy with your body), which makes us depressed, alone and anxious, impeding anything that we can do to grow and find ourselves. You have to push against the grain and truly be okay being completely alone to truly understand self-discovery, which actually helps reduce any mental health.

If you are okay with being yourself, by yourself, well you’ve won. Me, I think everyones dying all the time, if I don’t see you there’s a very high chance you’re dead in my mind. No, I’m not saying I want anyone dead its just my anxiety. I have a weird relationship with death, because I have a weird relationship with myself. I never learned how to cope with death or wanted to be with myself through death. I learned this when my 6 year old chocolate lab was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer and it was way too late to do anything. I had to chose whether to let her die by gasping for air when her lungs finally could not take anymore or do it at the hands of our trusted vets and our own decision making. We chose our vets hands in our home. I cannot speak of that moment. I won’t. She is too important to share what I felt in my heart and saw, shared with her, my husband and her last breath. Death is hard. It’s hard because where you place value. I value life, like its always fleeting. Some may value a good tan, skinny stomach, ass loads of cash–which this in turn triggers what you are concerned with and research, surround yourself with, which creates these habitual, ritualistic behaviors. You may recognize this, think you’ve reached a milestone in your life, really taken a hold of your diet, or began to meditate, but really you’re still focusing on your insecurities. Here is a crazy thought: what if you sat with yourself everyday, really sat with yourself. Thought about who you are at that moment (which is also fluid and changes every day, minute or second). Decided to love yourself anyway. Love yourself through your sub par diet, through you lack of cash and power, through your anxieties of death, through your struggling parenting styles: but simply just loved yourself anyways, even for just that moment. I wonder what would come of loving yourself, even for that short time. I wonder what life you could breathe and give to yourself; I wonder if you would stop focusing so much on the crunch wrap ordiet in general that food becomes unambiguous; you now all of the sudden have a healthy relationship with your food because in fact you’ve stopped focusing on it, even when you think all the focus is going in the right direction helping you. What if actually loving yourself is a complete paradigm shift of achieving self-sustained balance, without the expense of energy on your mental health.

Self discovery is mental health. Mental health is self-discovery. There shouldn’t be a divide. There should be more help, less prescriptions, more connection, less price tags, more love, less judgement. My cup filith over with love, my cup also filith over with exhaustion of everyones opinions on society when they are actively part of the problem and what everyone should be like and do.

Sometimes, just simply loving your home, taking care of it, no matter what that looks like, can stop big name companies. Sometimes just loving your friends wanting to be next to them talking to them, can stop big name companies. Sometimes when you are going on a date and need a new shirt, raiding your best friends closet can actually save the world. Stop reveling in your aspirations of the material world that does nothing but service the divide you complain about. Instead, revel in the little things, borrow the shirt, make the friend dinner, take the shorter shower.

My something I am working on: A ginormous flower bed in my basement to grow eggplants, broccoli, spaghetti squash, herbs, just try to grow as much fresh produce in house. I also want to be still more. Be at home more. Romanticize my journey in my house with my family more. Stop wanting something bigger, artificial with a price tag. Where I am, with who I have created and love, well, that’s truly all I need. Focusing on love for them and my life, reduce the anxieties of where and what box society has for me to fit in.

Everyone can have a goal to stand tall against money grubbers in our society that inevitably make us feel like big balls of shit, and it doesn’t have to look like you think. Microscopic goals to most, in turn create these tiny habits that can build into great big moves without any help from the elite. A good one to start with, is loving yourself anyways. So move with intent, be with yourself and like it. The first big fuck you to any one, anywhere is liking yourself. And you seem pretty damn cool.

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