Mental Health – Let’s Get Open

I remember when I was young, playing “Barbie Idols” with my best friend after school. We would dress the dolls up as our favourite artists and sing our hearts out while playing our CDs as loud as our parents would allow. We always imagined we were Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera. These women were our idols, and we couldn’t get enough. Fast track a few years ahead and you had the tabloids freaking out about Britney’s public mental breakdown in 2008 when she shaved her head.

I remember it being the most absurd thing I had ever heard a celebrity do – granted, I was still a kid! It just didn’t make any sense to me. I think at the time, the notion of talking openly about mental health was so out of reach for the majority of the world – and even more so for women celebrities. At the time I had no idea that the outbreak Britney was experiencing was because she was really struggling. People joked about her breakdown. They judged her, made memes, and called her crazy. And this showed me one thing…

A broken system

Women in our industry are under so much pressure. Celebrities must face their entire lives being publicized. The whole world judges their every move. They are expected to keep up a certain look to sustain their sexual appeal to the masses (because apparently, this is a valid form of identity – belch!) and when they buckle under the pressure, they are not held. They are not given grace. They are not supported.

I mean if you have watched Amy Winehouse’s documentary “Amy”, you witness a beautifully talented human being go from following a dream to being torn apart. Drugs, addiction, pressure from producers and fans, and her father refusing to support her decision to go to rehab because he claimed she was fine. She was a woman struggling in an environment where the extent to which she was seen and heard, was only at the level of how much she could make the men around her rich.

Now I don’t want to throw feminism down your throat, but what I do want to say is that the more we as women (whether we are in the music industry or not) get open about our mental health struggles, the more we can inspire others to do the same before they reach breaking point. In this way, we can collectively move toward creating an environment that is conducive to healing from, coping with, and managing mental health issues. I am inspired by the number of women musicians in the industry who are beginning to talk more openly about their mental health issues and see this as steps toward a healthier and more “normal” approach to mental health struggles.

Just to name a few, we have Selena Gomez opening up about her bipolar, Lady Gaga getting honest about her PTSD, rape, and anxiety, Demi Levato speaking about an eating disorder.

What women like this show me is this

Even if the world says you need to look, be, or feel a certain way, you do not have to conform to those expectations. It also shows that being honest and open about your struggles humanizes you and allows others to feel more confident in speaking about their issues. Personally – my very open discussion is around the fact that I had bulimia for 15 years. I still manage my eating disorder recovery daily. I also struggle with severe anxiety and ADHD. I experience insecurity and have problems with expressing my anger without internalizing it. I was date raped in my early twenties, abused drugs and alcohol heavily, attempted suicide, and even went to rehab.

But these days, if you were to meet me, you wouldn’t ever think that these things have happened in my life. I have some people call me the “happiest person they’ve ever met”. A colleague once said to me “Your life was probably handed to you on a silver platter because of how optimistic you are about everything.” (haha if only they knew!)

The reason I reached this space was that I got open. I started talking about my struggles and became willing to do something about them without shame. I started reaching out to people who had walked the same path. I sought support, put it into action, and radically changed my life. These days I work as a coach for people who struggle with eating disorders, mental health issues, and addiction and it’s all because I let my fear of being judged aside and said: “Hey, I’m not okay”.

So, I encourage you to think – are you getting open about where you’re at? Are you seeking transformation in your life? Are you willing to put your fears aside and reach out? If not, what are you resisting? What is the underlying fear of speaking up?

No matter how afraid you are, there are ALWAYS people who are willing to listen, guide, and support your journey.

So, speak up. Not only for yourself but to inspire others around you to do the same. Feel free to contact me if you are ever struggling and need direction in your mental health journey.

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