Something something plastic bag floating through the wind… Wait, wrong artist.
Imagine this, you’re sitting, on what can be described as a comfortable chair, hugging your back and hips. Perhaps you’re at a cafe, enjoying a cup of coffee, or at the beach, or just on the couch at home, watching the latest football game. Now imagine this, you are where you are, a soul among others. You are in a social situation, but yet you feel so, so, alone.
What’s there to talk about?
Sometimes, it’s hard to find something to talk about. We started off as workmates, perhaps, but have moved on to other endeavours and don’t really have much in common to talk about anymore.
Sure, you have work and someone else might be studying, but you, are alone, with your thoughts (about mental illness per se, given the context of where this is going to be posted). Those thoughts of wanting to be alone, yet wanting to be with others, social.
Do you really want to talk about mental illness? Your mental illness? Nobody likes hearing negatives, we thrive on positivity and the hope behind it.
So we just keep quiet then?
That’s a difficult question to answer. But I know one thing I support, conversation. And that is one thing we are severely lacking. Never mind mental illness, issues like LGBTQ+ rights, terrorism, government policies or even public transport woes. Very often it is a one-sided “debate”. Someone is wrong and someone is right.
But what if we entertain the fact that not everything we believe can be fact? Mental illness is real, it is as physiological as the flu and psychological at the same time.
What if one day, we start talking? More importantly, we start listening. We listen to what people with mental illness have to go through, and the countless times “going outside did not magically solve problems”. Or “a run did not make me feel better, instead worse”.
The hardest conversations are those that we need to have
We can get stuck in the mindset that we are our opinions and vice versa. But our opinions are a box of cards that we should be able to switch with one that makes more, better and logical sense.
The moment we start listening to people we don’t agree with is, I think, the moment we open our minds and discover that we are not our opinion and our opinions are not us.
Wait, that plastic bag thing?
Tangential this post is. No matter whether we are sick, poor, extremist, gay or just normal, we all have a say, in anything.
People with mental illnesses should not be afraid to speak up, and I believe we aren’t. We are more than willing to rant or talk about what lies beyond our solar system. But a conversation is a two-way street. Someone speaks, someone listens. Not one party has to be right, or have an opinion so crushing it can ruin the conversation.
Sadly, a conversation can be seen as a one-way street by many. I talk, you “listen”, you speak your opinion. That’s it. What if we removed that last third and instead I talk, you listen, you talk, I listen. We can keep our box of opinions separate from the conversation and simply conversate.
You can tell me about the ways I can get better from my anxiety or feel better from my depression, and I’ll listen. But please, listen to me.
Listen to what I have to say, the struggles I have to go through, the pains I have on the daily, the fact that I cannot get out of bed on certain days. Listen to what I am, what I want to be and why I think I can’t be what I want to be.
This post should be called ‘Listen’. But SEO.