The Power of Letting Your Emotions Out

One of the biggest conversations people have been having lately has been the topic of how incredibly important it is to talk about and spread awareness of mental health. There’s a bunch of stigma surrounding whether or not mental health is something that people can control, or if it’s just something that people use as a reason to why they can’t deal with their problems properly.

Quite frankly, talking about mental health is more important now than ever before. Discussing mental health can’t be something that's just used as a random storyline to grab ratings and is completely forgotten about in the next episode or season – it’s something that characters bring with them across their story arch, especially when they fluctuate between having their highs and lows. Some people feel like coming forward and talking about their mental health conditions is attention-seeking or overdramatic, but truly being able to talk about it just shows that they’re making a big step in acceptance.

When it comes to dealing with mental health, not a lot of people are even sure of how they can get their emotions out in a healthy way — that’s the key here. There are a ton of things people can do to help their mental health, but many fall down the rabbit hole of self-harm and substance abuse. Once they go down that path, it takes even longer to bounce back from it.

On ABC’s television show How to Get Away with Murder, Annalise Keating is a renowned lawyer who faces her demons through an alcohol addiction (and not by murder). Annalise spends a long time in denial of the fact that she has a problem, as drinking is just something she does to get her through the difficulties of helping her students cover up various murders. It takes six entire seasons before Annalise finally goes to rehab and admits that this is something she truly struggles with.

Annalise has been through a lot of loss in her life, and she’s never sure if her feelings are actually okay or valid enough. She struggles with her sexual orientation as she falls in love with her best friend but still lusts over her male therapist, and she wonders if there’s something wrong with her for having an attraction to both parties. Of course, as viewers, we know that this is nothing out of the ordinary. But for her, coming to terms with something of this magnitude takes a large mental and emotional toll. When she's finally pregnant and with the man of her dreams, she gets hit by a car and loses the baby.

Even just watching other people die can truly traumatize a person — she saw when Wes’ mother had killed herself, and she's been no stranger to seeing corpses in her own home. You see, that’s the thing with depression and having a series of bad things happen. As a stand-alone life event, it's tough enough to deal with, but when everything in her life starts to feel like a domino effect, she turns to alcohol to drown out her sorrows. So how does she get help?

By hitting her pillows with her fists and affirming herself against the negative things that she always hears about herself. After rehab, rather than keeping everything inside, Annalise lets her emotions out physically, as she tries to funnel out negative energy. The first time I saw her do this — while telling herself that she's not a whore — it resonated with me because stressors in my life often change how other people perceive me. Honestly, it’s a very human feeling to have.

We are especially living in a time where people are coming to the frontlines and speaking more clearly about abuse — both domestic and sexual — and the insane toll it takes on a person. Josephine Wilson, (AKA Karev — the other half of the cutest couple on Grey's Anatomy), is introduced into the show on the terms that she lived a very hard life. From living in her car and not knowing her parents, to being abused by her husband Paul, Jo symbolizes how you can't let the past stop you from accomplishing the dreams you have in life. Jo has a pretty good handle on life until she finally meets her biological mother for the first time and discovers that she was conceived due to rape.

Jo falls into a major depressive state, to the point where she checks herself into a mental facility to get better. There is such a horrible buzz around mental facilities and how they're just the first stop to Crazyville, when in reality, they're a place where you can better yourself and learn how to cope with the hard things in life. There was a point in the season where it felt like Jo was not going to get better, but after talking things through with her therapist and learning about life, she slips back into her normal self. Just like Annalise, Jo finds herself letting out her frustration physically, by chucking balls and stuffed toys against the wall. Alex even joins in on this to let out his own frustrations — proving that you don't have to be at your lowest point to still need a good old-fashioned self-care throw session.

Not many people realize that there are not two different sides to a person — their okay side and their mental condition side. In reality, a person is a combination of the two — they take the things they learn from their condition to work and become a better version of themselves. This is exactly what we see in Netflix's new series Living With Yourself, starring Paul Rudd. Main character Miles is depressed and sick of his life, so he goes to a spa in a strip mall to try and become better. At the spa, they clone a new Miles to have all the good traits, and the original Miles is perceived as the "bad" Miles. With the two versions of Miles, we see that neither is perfect.

You can't split yourself up into the "normal" and "messed up" parts of yourself, because, in reality, there's always going to be some bad — regardless of how good things may seem. While the original Miles was distant and focused on work, the new Miles did not understand that you need to talk about your problems and work things through rather than pretending that they never happened. The two versions of Miles resented each other so much that they proceeded to get into a physical fight, proclaiming that they wanted to kill each other.

Before this is when the "perfect" version of Miles stands at a mirror with a gun, ready to end his own life. It's a painstaking scene to watch, but it was something that needed to be done. As much as he wanted to kill himself, he knew that it would hurt the people around him — and in all truth, he was completely scared of killing himself, regardless of how much he wanted to do it.

During the fight, the two Miles look at the credenza that their wife loves and begin to destroy it. As they knock it down, they start yelling out in anger, to the point where the credenza is broken on the floor and their intense emotions have finally left their system. They apologize to each other, realizing that fighting each other is not the right option.

A big problem people have is believing that they must keep their thoughts and feelings hidden. It might look like a sign of weakness to talk about things like anxiety and depression, but in reality, being able to talk about it shows the greatest strength a person could have in the world. People shouldn't keep their emotions in when really, they need to let them out. But let's try and leave our loved ones' credenzas intact, okay?

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4