The Greatest Lie Ever Told
If you know me, you know that asking me the question, ‘How are you?’ isn’t going to get a typical response. If I’m okay, that’s what I’ll tell you. But if I’m tired, stressed, mad, hangry, etc. I’m going to tell you and follow it up with why. That can be too much for some people – sorry. But I know that many of us often say, ‘I’m great’ or ‘I’m good’ because we think nobody really wants to hear the truth. So we lie.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the lie, ‘I’m okay’ is why so many people, particularly African-Americans, do not seek help for mental illness. It’s easier to say, ‘I’m okay’ than to admit to a friend, family member, coworker, church member, etc. that you are in fact, not okay. And don’t get me wrong – I’ve told this lie on many occasions.
When I was going through post-partum depression I lied very well. I got up, got dressed, and smiled. When people asked how things were going, I’d say great, fine, it’s a change. But really, I was dying inside. I was confused, angry, sad, and jealous all at the same time. I was confused because what I pictured motherhood would be wasn’t coming to fruition. I was angry because I couldn’t fix it. I was sad because I was angry and confused and I was jealous of all of my friends who seemed to have popped babies out and were doing fabulous. But I hid it. Almost too well. To the point where I lost my mind and wasn’t sure I’d ever get it back.
The thing is, people with mental illnesses often lie and hide. We don’t want the world to know that we’re struggling. There is still a stigma in having a mental illness and until it’s seen as what it is – an illness that we can’t control – many people will continue to hide. And until it’s no longer swept under a rug, communities will not heal.
It’s complicated; but, the next time you ask someone how they’re doing – be prepared to listen – really listen. Make yourself acessible and if you can’t, point them in the direction of someone who can.
Until next time….