Anxious and Existing

Edited by Ann Marie Elpa 

Hello love,

 

Take a deep breath. Relax your posture. Unclench your jaw. Loosen your shoulder muscles. Wiggle your fingers.

 

Now we are ready.

 

Today, we are going to talk about mental health, and identity crisis in brown community. But if you have a different skin tone, stick around, maybe this rant/self-talk is what you need.

Being part of brown culture where being anxious and dealing with self-esteem issues is mostly considered a phase that you will get out of on your own, or a mood swing, it is important that we all realize that mental wellbeing is vital. And sometimes it is hard to attain that.

People don’t think you need therapy, medications, or self-care routines to get better. Because there is no place for the notion of instability or depression to exist. People tell you that because you feel lost, you need to work harder to clear your focus and aim higher, achieve those dreams on first try to feel better.

First try only. You don’t get a second chance.

 

Utter Bulls#*t.

 

Growing up in a community which demonizes mental health, and considers any form of mental illness as “person going crazy,” it took me tons of practice to assure myself that my feelings are valid, my state of constant anxiety is also valid, and it’s nothing to be shamed of, and I can improve with the help of professionals.

Ever since I was a kid, I heard a lot of people talk about how one particular person didn’t show up to the current event because they are “crazy,” and/or “insane.”

Trigger words.

 

Take another deep breath.

 

It takes years of unlearning to understand the significance of metal health, and disorders, and realizing how common they are and how oblivious our society is. And, also, ignorant.

We face pressure to be better, better than others especially, because, oh my God, if you scored less marks than your cousin or your parent’s friend’s kids! You will insult your family’s legacy (really)? And what if you want to pursue non-traditional career paths? What if you want to focus on your music lessons, theatre classes, writing seminars…what if you come out of the closet?

These are scenarios we all have to deal with, and sometimes supress that part of ourselves to make our parents proud. Sometimes we forget to stop, and lose ourselves in the chaos. Sometimes we forget our identity, or forget to create an identity that we are comfortable in. The decisions you make, your family makes for you, only show a miniscule part of the person you are. Forging your own identity while navigating through the maze of repercussions of not being “good enough” is scary, and hard, and certainly not something you will get right on the first try.

Heck, you won’t even know what “right” identity is for you until you find something that matches what you feel. It is a weird cycle. Welcome to the party, pal.

Trying to live up to the expectations of others is a job no one can do. You exert yourself to horrendous time-crunch and back-biting work, end up burning yourself out, and feel disgusted by how opinionated others are about you because no one seems to appreciate your efforts. So, you start again. Push yourself further. Without asking for help, or pausing to catch up your breath because what if someone overtakes you? What if someone pushes themselves a little further than you and snatches your golden ribbon?

 

Take three continuous deep breaths.

 

Just existing is a struggle, and you are making it harder for yourself to survive. But I get it, consequences can be harsh. Or even not in your reach. Financially, you may not be privileged enough to follow your passion. Money matters and you have to do what will bring financial stability. Or, socially, doing certain things can be fatal. Expressing your sexuality and gender can be disastrous. You may be kicked out of your house. And you’ll have nowhere to go. Existing will be an even harsher struggle.

It is hard for everyone mate, and we all are just trying to figure our who we are, answer the universal questions about self-realization before our time runs out.

Whether you know who you are, what you want to be, and how you will get there, or not, I hope your journey is safe, and full of happiness, and hope.

I hope you find what you are looking for. I hope you find it.

 

Love,

Avleen.