We walk through life only sharing a fraction of ourselves with the world around us. We keep it contained. We hide it. We lie about it. We fake it. We move past it. We forget about it. And we trudge on…until it arises again.
Then when it finally comes out for others to see, instead of embracing them, we shut them down, shut them out, and shut them up. They are pushed back into their cycle of negative, overwhelming emotions until the weight is too heavy. What then?
Depression and anxiety are real. Mental illness is real. I recently saw the coined terminology of most of today’s depressed people as “high-functioning anxiety.” I get it, because that’s what society has done to most of us, even without realization or intentional acceptance. They push and pull until we are exhausted. They set expectations. They set restrictive boundaries on what the “right” thing to do is.
When do you breathe? When do you take a step back to analyze, evaluate, restructure. We dream when we are little. We are told “you can be whatever you want to be.” And while our society is great at keeping us aspiring to more, they forget to share where the happiness line is drawn. A recent study has proven that any amount earned over $75,000 doesn’t truly add to your daily happiness/mood. There may be a reflection on your personal life’s worth, but that doesn’t necessarily make you happier. Interesting, huh? I know my dreams of what I want to be have drastically changed since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until I slowed down to reflect on my sole entity that I grasped the massive changes that had taken place in and around me without true understanding of it.
We have seen many scenarios of the millionaires who lose their mental stability and core of happiness, no matter what their bank account may say. Robin Williams is one of the most standout examples of this societal issue on depression. I have found that embracing the emotions, regardless of whether they are negative or positive, (though paying most attention to the why’s of the negative), and bringing light to them – telling the truth – exposing them – leads to a release of weight on one self. Does this mean you open mic your pains in the midst of hurting, no. But find the ones who are trustworthy and admit to your feelings. More often than not, you find a depth of relation that has never existed. And once you get to the other side – the side where wholeness is experienced – you don’t contain it.
Share your experiences – your highs AND your lows. Our lives aren’t meant to live in the singular cyclone. Our purpose is beyond our immediate circle of influence – affect change. Our world needs more honesty, especially in the hard stuff. Thankfully, we have access to so much self-help information through the internet, podcasts, etc. now…but there is something tangible about embrace with eye-contact, hugs, and connectivity on a heart level.
Let’s open our minds, arms, hearts, and homes to people. You don’t know what your neighbor is going through. This is especially true of the youth around us – how much pressure they are under academically, generationally, racially and beyond. I see power in our hands, through the power of Jesus Christ, to physically ignite people back to life like a defibrillator simply by the true embrace of a hug and reminder to them that they are not alone. I challenge you to take the Bible literal in the opportunity to love your neighbor as yourself. It may change their life…but I’m confident it will change yours too.