October 8th, 2020
I realized yesterday that I’m very excited about mental health.
What caused this? I think it’s COVID! The pandemic is a reset. It has stripped down my life to something that is more bare-bones.
I’ve been talking to Pieter about this, and he said it best:
“Covid dried the lake and now we get to see what's at the bottom.”
If you asked me about mental health last year, I would have said something dismissive, like “mental health is becoming a buzzword”. If you asked me 5 years ago, I might have dismissed it completely.
When you’re 25, especially as a male, you’re so focused on your career that you can mask any mental health issues by burying yourself in your work.
There is nothing wrong with that, but at 30 I’ve got some of that career stuff figured out, and I realize I’m still fucked up in the head…
So where do I go next? The only place I can go is internal. It’s scary as fuck but it’s the only option!
My 25-year-old self had a lot less empathy for mental health.
My mom (a therapist) once told me that when guys get older, they can lose some of their ambition.
When I heard this, I couldn’t wrap my head around not being ambitious.
But now I realize how naive and unempathetic I was. This naivety might have caused pain with my friends and family, and regret that.
When people opened up to me about their mental health issues, my first reaction was to offer a solution. I would often “advice” people on how to fix their mental health problems.
And after I gave them this advice, and they came back a few weeks later without making progress, I would think:
“Why didn’t you take my advice from last time? You didn’t listen! Why are we going over this again??”
Ugh! What a fucking asshole I was!!
I did this because (1) I couldn’t empathize and (2) I was ignorant of facts and research (e.g. depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain).
I try to keep this in mind now, and just let people vent.
Venting leads to learning, and it’s not fair for you to cut people off when they are venting, because it prevents learning!
People vent in different ways. Some people vent to their loved ones. Some people vent at the gym. How unfair would it be to end someone’s workout halfway through?
I vent internally, like through this blog you’re reading right now. By venting through writing, I’ve been able to work on many of my mental health issues.
When I post a particularly vulnerable thing on here, I can’t stand it when people send me emails with unsolicited/unconstructive advice!
“Don’t you know I’m just venting?”
I’d rather you tell me you read it / related to it / are here for me / or have some good constructive feedback. That’s what actually makes me stronger and keeps me going.
Now I realize I used to be “that guy”, but IRL, to my closest friends and family...