Mental health: invalidating personal struggles through comparison (Opinion)

Welcome to The Mav’s mental health editorial series: The Patchwork Project

Anonymous, Writer

All opinions are those of the writers themselves and do not promote any official view or stance of Mead High School or St. Vrain Valley Schools. 

For me, talking about mental health has always been difficult. Not because I don’t have anyone to talk to, not because I don’t feel comfortable talking about it. I struggle to talk about my mental health because I often feel like there isn’t anything to talk about.

When I hear what my peers go through, taking medication for their anxiety or crying in their car before they walk into school, I always think “I’m not allowed to talk about my mental health — compared to others, I’m completely fine.”

What I’ve recently realized, though, is that everyone has their issues. Just because my problems don’t show themselves physically doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle sometimes.

I’ve grown up in a healthy household. I have a good relationship with my family, we have family dinner almost every night. I know that I can talk to my parents, but that doesn’t mean I always want to. Do I want the constant check-ins that I’ll receive if I were to tell my parents about a struggle I was having? Do I want them to worry or take what I say too seriously?

When there is a conversation about mental health, you hear people say, “Make sure you have someone to talk to.” And that is a valid point. For some, all they need is an open conversation. But for me and for many others, I imagine, talking about it isn’t always the answer.

To make it clear, it’s important to have the option to talk to someone. By no means am I saying that you should feel like you have to deal with all your problems by yourself. What I’m saying is, it’s important to spend time with yourself if you’re looking to grow mentally.

In the year we spent apart, I got to spend a lot of time alone. In that time, I did the most mental growth I have ever done. I stopped caring about the opinions of others, I realized the importance of forgiveness, and I learned to value my alone time.

Being away from my peers helped me find the things I enjoy most, reading and painting and watching movies. All things I do by myself.

I firmly believe you have to spend time away from your peers and away from your phone. Drowning out your thoughts by hanging out with your friends or spending hours on TikTok is never going to help you improve. You’re never going to diagnose the problems you have if you never hear yourself think. 

Last January, I was in the best mental state I’ve ever been in. I took walks everyday, and I wasn’t tired all the time. My phone became less and less appealing to me, and I loved to spend time alone. I credit that to yoga.

I did yoga almost every day for two months, and I felt better than I ever had. I felt so present and content, like I never had before. The effect yoga had on me was proven this last fall.

Things are going back to normal. I spend so much time at school, I don’t have time to do yoga anymore. I don’t have time with myself, and I don’t feel as content. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like myself.

Of course, I’m not saying yoga is the ultimate solution to every mental health problem. What I’m suggesting is, you find something that you can do by yourself that you really enjoy, whether it’s yoga or something else.

Once you’ve gotten to a place of inner stability, you can project that outwards. I’ve found that I’ve become more aware of how I behave towards others.

I have friendships because I enjoy them, not because I need them. When you feel good about yourself, you can be a better support for the people who are struggling and need your help.