Mental illness was once simply a concept to me, not an experience. Growing up, there were casual mentions of how mental health was something to take note of, but it paled in importance to due-dates, assignments, and the demands of daily life. As the daughter of two immigrants, the expectations I set for myself were astronomically high, trying to reach the stars in homage to the sacrifices of my parents. In this paradigm of mine, staying motivated was the only priority. Exhaustion was acceptable, perhaps honorable, but perseverance would always triumph and see me through another day. This time in my life was simple, but lacked a depth of understanding regarding my true feelings, insights, and internal stressors. It was not until late in my collegiate career that this unknowing neglect began to take its toll. This was the first time in my life I experienced chronic anxiety. It occurred slowly, with trouble sleeping, unwelcome thoughts, and bouts of sadness, yet the idea that I was confronting a mental illness never truly registered. I simply did not resonate with a view of myself in which I was suffering. My strong beliefs in delayed gratification chalked these growing problems to the struggles the successful were required to face. It wasn’t until I truly experienced a breakdown of soul, identity, and mental peace that I realized I was not above the touch of mental illness. I was living in ignorance, unaware of my own feelings and unable to understand emotions as they arose. This realization seems naive, but I share this glimpse into my former thought process because I believe many of us still believe that chronic mental struggles are expected and acceptable, which leaves us not-so-blissfully unaware.
Recently, our healthcare, workplace, digital spaces have been bombarded with mental health related messages in response to growing concerns about the mental state of our society. But all too often do these messages remain outside of our perception of self. We think to quietly ourselves, “Mental illness is something that happens to other people, but it couldn’t happen to me.” Regardless of our acceptance and compassion for others who are suffering, our blind eye to our own narrative of illness presents the biggest barrier to accessing care and adjusting mindsets for healing. Seeing my lack of understanding for myself, feelings and all, I set out to create a platform for my ideas, creations, and thoughts, which became Musings of M.E.C.
In doing so, I created a space where I endeavor to share the reality of mental health struggles with a reflective eye. Sharing my honest narratives of both bliss and sadness has allowed my community to begin conversations with themselves, creating more self awareness of their feelings, challenging them to ask themselves “How am I *really* doing?”. Despite the initial discomfort of “checking-in” with yourself regularly and reflecting on your thoughts and feelings, I encourage you to take such practices to heart, however cringeworthy you may perceive them to be. Because in doing so at my lowest point, I begrudgingly took my first steps to free myself from a drought of self-awareness that I had lived in for years.
With her desire to bring awareness to Mental Health + Wellness, Mackenzie unpacks what Mental Health means to her and dispels harmful portrayals for realistic representation. Follow along to get a glimpse of what mentally taking care of herself looks like:
🤍Reflection: Whether it’s therapy, journaling, or sitting with thoughts, reflecting on your emotions and struggles is honestly terrifying. While some may find it pleasant, it’s a daunting task for me and often results with exhaustion and tears. Yet, doing the “work” to realize and acknowledge what you’re feeling is probably the most important practice I’ve found for healing.
🤍Laughter: If you’re dealing with mental illness, people often expect you to be mopey or chronically sad. But if you don’t fit that portrayal, society doubts your suffering. You are allowed to have moments of joy when you’re struggling.
🤍Vulnerability: This one is a doozy because I hate showing sides of myself that aren’t pretty. Learning to rely on others and express my thoughts even when it feels uncomfy has strengthened my relationships with others and myself.
🤍Indulgence: You deserve to treat yourself. Not feeling well does not disqualify you from indulging in the things you love. Treat. Yo’. Self.
🤍Rest: Caring for yourself IS exhausting. Whether you’re struggling with mental illness or not. There are no awards for running yourself into the ground physically or emotionally.
Join us LIVE in conversation 5/27 at 7pm on ig as we take a deep dive into Mental Health, stigmas, and the overflow into self image.