It’s night, and you feel the unease deep in the pit of your stomach, reminding you of the memory you’d buried earlier that day. You tell yourself you are okay. An errant thought escapes the carefully constructed moments you’ve allowed to occupy your mind. You tell yourself, once more, you are okay. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. That the nausea, the queasiness, the general unease you’re feeling is an illusion brought on by your overactive imagination. You’re silently begging yourself to move on. To bury the feeling, and to fall deep asleep. This errant thought, though insignificant, affects you acutely. It creeps up on you in the most inopportune of times, when you seemingly feel fine and have forgotten all about it. And it is a constant reminder that you are, in fact, completely alone.
I have struggled with anxiety ever since I could remember, whether it was being unable to present in front of my class throughout all my school years, or audition in front of a panel of executives holding the key to my dream job; I would shake, feel nauseous, and retreat, into the safety of my bedroom, my books, and my imagination.
My own shyness is the reason why, for the most part, I keep my personal and private life off of Instagram. What you see is put out after hours of careful contemplation and laborious analyzation, both tiring to myself and to everyone around me. I don’t know if my anxiety, or nerves, or whatever it is that consumes me, and enslaves me in the darkness of my own mind, can handle being judged and analyzed in a way I find myself and my friends doing so often.
However, a few months ago, we, the team behind @MyTherapistSays, started a very personal, and incredibly important, project: a mental health initiative, @MyTherapistHelps.
It was through that platform I was able to harness my own strength and look past my own fears, as I witnessed so many of you doing whilst confiding in us, in the page, and in the community we had built, together. You had told us of the friends you had made through the account, of the strength you had amassed through the humor and pain, and of the hope you held for the future. It was your honesty and your empathy which helped me find my own voice, in the most authentic and profound way, and use it to further this ongoing conversation of how it is okay to not be okay.
We bonded over passages from books, scenes from films we found affinity in, and a general sense of familial embrace, which a lot us don’t have at home. Or, at the very least, we feel we don’t. So many of us hide under filtered photos, optimistic captions, offhanded lies, constant secrecy, and anything else we can grasp on to that shields us from the prying eyes of day to day life in a world where there is very little in the way of privacy and keeping things close to your heart.
I’ve decided that today will be the day I start talking more honestly, and openly, about what therapy and mental illness means to me. About how literature and history shaped and protected me when I felt most alone. In Dostoevky’s prose, and Poe’s poetry; in the rise and fall of the greatest empires; in a painting so beautiful it could only have been inspired by true sorrow. My obsessions, and my passions, for anything and everything artistic and creative, have always guided me in even the most tumultuous of moments in my personal life. And it is my hope that, by sharing these pursuits, by opening up the discussion, and including your voices, we might help each other.
I will start this by encouraging some of my friends, writers, actors, entrepreneurs, who’ve managed to find success amidst their own anxiety and fear, and conquered great heights, to talk about how they did it. Their stories, their scars, and their triumph. And through their tales, hopefully, like I have today, you will find your strength and your constant reminder that you’re not alone.
Whether we’ll be dissecting Rilke and his dissent into madness, or why The Alchemist is a compass to so many around the world, we will be getting lost in the search for meaning. And it is this search, this constant, ceaseless pursuit of what it all means, that excites me and steers me when often I find myself making a wrong turn.
I will have help in the lot of you that opened up your hearts to our little family, sharing and exposing your wounds and truths, and helping us to better understand how our thoughts, our worries, our shattered dreams, can still shape a wonderful life.
“He in his madness prays for storms, and dreams that storms will bring him peace”
― Mikhail Lermontov