Adjusting The Way We Talk About Mental Health

If you’re a longtime reader of My Brain’s Not Broken, you know my fascination with words and language. I have posts all about mental health terms and why we use the words we do when we talk about mental health. This blog started as a way for me to tell my story, and there is no story without writing one word after the other.

My story has evolved over the years, and I think a big reason for that is because my language has evolved. I have a different way of talking about mental health than I did in years past, and I know I’m better for it. But making those adjustments – even just recognizing that they need to be made – is a challenge.

For most of my life, I didn’t realize how self-critical my thoughts were. I thought everyone had thoughts about themselves. Positive, negative, somewhere in the middle; that’s just the way things were. What I’d failed to realize is the impact of the world around me. I’d read, listen to or watch people use unfamiliar words without any context. Sometimes I was curious and asked questions but otherwise, I was on my own to figure out what they meant.

Looking back, I don’t like how I talked about mental health for most of my life. Now I realize that writing that at 29 is much different than at 49 or 59, but still. At least two-thirds of my life (possibly longer) were spent not knowing how to talk about certain issues.

Until I started having my own struggles, mental health definitely felt like one of them. I couldn’t connect hearing someone talk about their anxiety with the anxious thoughts I was having. I didn’t understand that the depression a person was describing was identical to thoughts I’d had, or feelings I was familiar with. There was language people were using that didn’t make sense because I’d never heard it before. And rather than ask questions, I made assumptions. I tried to go off what I already knew, instead of learning things that could have helped me learn more about myself.

There are plenty of valid reasons to adjust the way we talk about mental health. Society hasn’t always been able to have healthy discussions about mental health, and it shows in how we talk about it. We use words that stigmatize and phrases that disrespect because that’s what we’re used to.

Language persists when people use the same words and phrases over and over, but that doesn’t make it okay. It’s time we challenge that language for what it is. We deserve to be kinder with ourselves and gentler with our struggles. Change isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it is absolutely worth it. And like many things when it comes to mental health, this change happens one moment, one decision at a time.

Now, over to you! How do you think our world can adjust the way we talk about mental health? What are some of your suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

"A different language is a different vision of life." - Federico Fellini

It’s the Most Busiest Time of the Year

Does the title of this post sound a bit off? Well, that’s because it’s a play on the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” a classic Christmas song that has more covers and iterations than I could care to count. And even though this time of year actually is one of my favorite times of the year, it’s also incredibly busy. But even though it can be incredibly busy, this can still be a wonderful time for reflection and connection. It’s a bit tricky, but here’s what I’ve learned to get the most out of this time of the year.

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Getting Out of My Head

Some days I wish I could get out of my head. I don’t always know what I mean when I say that, but the sentiment is there. It feels like I live most of my life inside my head and every so often, I want to burst out. I’m sure actually doing so isn’t as dramatic as all that, but it feels like it would be. Being ‘inside your head’ is a fancy synonym for overthinking a moment or situation but when you do it often, it feels like it’s just the way you experience things. After quickly retreating inward for many weeks, I’d like to try getting out of my head, and here’s why.

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Taking Things Day By Day

When it comes to mental health, there are many cliched phrases I find myself gravitating toward to talk about health and wellness. I like to think of these phrases are things to turn to when my brain is tired, or I feel like I’ve been moving too fast and need to take a moment to reacclimate myself. One of the phrases I turn to often is a reminder: take things one day at a time. Over time, I’ve realized how important it is to take my mental health day by day – and how often, it’s what helps me get what I need.

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Everything Serves A Purpose

I’ve written about it before, but the way different aspects of our health connect is fascinating to me. I often think about the connection between my physical health and mental health. To be honest, the main reason I focus on my physical health is because of the way it helps me manage my mental health. But today, I want to talk about the unique purpose that certain activities have. Everything serves a purpose when it comes to our wellness, and it’s important that we acknowledge that.

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Ambition And Depression

They gon’ love me for my ambition… – Wale

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with the word ambition. As long as I can remember, I’ve been told ambition is something you need. It’s hard to meet and necessary for success. Without ambition, we’re all floating around without a care in the world. I’ve always thought myself to be an ambitious person. I have dreams of what I want to do, what I want my life to look like. But some things get in the way of ambition and today, I want to share about one of those things.

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Getting to Know Ourselves Better

Getting to know ourselves is a lifelong journey – full of twists, turns, surprises and disappointments. What doesn’t matter to us one year could be monumentally important the next, and so on and so forth throughout our lives. I used to think that learning new things about myself was more cinematic. Time would slow down, and my moment of clarity would spring forward. But as with many things in life, perception and reality don’t always link up. We don’t always choose to learn new things about ourselves, and dealing with that can be tricky.

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We All Deserve Nice Things

Today’s post might be short, but that’s because the message is simple. Over the weekend, I checked off one of the biggest things currently on my bucket list – I saw my favorite musical on Broadway. And even though it still makes me uneasy to gush on this blog about things I love (here’s hoping I can get more comfortable with that!), I want to share some thoughts about what came to mind when I’d realized I’d done something that made me incredibly happy.

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Spring Is Here! Kind Of. Maybe?

As I write this, I am looking out the window to another 50-degree, so-so winter day. But I don’t care because to me, March means one big positive for my mental health – the no-good, rotten, very bad days of winter are almost at an end. And even though spring isn’t “officially” here yet (at least not according to the calendars I looked up), I’m an early adopter of spring because of what it represents and what it can mean for our mental health.

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Learning to Find Comfort in Messing Up

I get annoyed at myself a lot. Like, a lot. Multiple times a day. Part of that is my natural inclination after years of experiencing depression and anxiety, but part of it feels like human nature. No one is is happy about every single choice they make. We’re humans and we make mistakes. The problem is, I can hear that a million times, but an aspect of that never sinks in. Failing is extremely uncomfortable to me, and even though I’m discovering why, that doesn’t make it any easier to manage.

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