Monsters, inner struggle & stigma
I sometimes resist reaching out when I’m struggling. I also compensate when I’m at my lows by ‘appearing’ to be at my best. In the age of media, constant dopamine hits and perfection, pretending like you’re fine is an easy skill to master.
Mental health is still stigmatised and being open about your struggle can be very difficult. It’s easy to shut down, hide or distract. It’s hard allowing others into your personal life to help during your lows, especially if you don't want to appear ‘weak’. It has become more prevalent in conversations with friends or celebrity interviews— that the outside doesn’t always reflect the inner struggle people are going through.
Sometimes it can feel as though I’m wearing an invisible mask which isn’t reflecting my true feelings or wellbeing. And it is so debilitating and exhausting to keep up with this persona when I’m not feeling my best. But can we blame ourselves for this reaction? People naturally respond well to positive, talkative and bright people – so when you shut down or become less ‘present’, you’re unlikely to receive positive feedback from your environment. Developing a persona that you can hide behind becomes comfortable (and exhausting).
The more we facilitate conversations that allow those who are struggling to be open about reaching out for support, the less instances of long-winded efforts to appear fine there will be. Appearing to be fine has become a skill that a lot of us have learnt however, maintaining this long term is damaging and difficult to keep up. Through being open about your struggle, this invites a space where others can feel comfortable to open up about any of their inner turmoils.
Being open about one’s inner struggle isn’t easy, and I tend to only open up only if the person I’m in conversation with opens up first. This is something I need to work on. What if the other person never opens up? Being vulnerable is hard but important – so recognising your perceptions and responses to mental health and your own wellbeing is something to consider.
Student Wellbeing is hosting a creative Monster Mask Workshop for Stress Less on 13 October (Wednesday) as part of Mental Health Month. This is an opportunity craft a mask that reflects your monster – what a way to face your inner monster! Find out more about the event here.
We all have an inner monster who can devastate our wellbeing – what does yours look like?