For one reason or another, I’ve been thinking about the word optimism for the past few weeks. I think about it in many ways – what it means to practice it, what it looks like in my life, and what it looks like for my sanity, to name a few. Whether this is just obvious in my own imagination or in my writing, I feel like my posts sometimes seem overly optimistic about how to deal with mental health and mental illness – and in months like September with suicide prevention. I really believe in the idea that ripples in the pond can raise awareness, reduce stigma, and help people learn that it’s okay to be wrong. But I also know how incredibly frustrating it can be to exist like this. Ultimately, I think I’ll always go for the glass when it comes to mental health, but I don’t think I’ve ever really explained why. There are some big reasons why I write the way I do that I thought I’d share with you today.
Reason 1: I think this is an effective way to bring new people into the conversation. Statistics alone show that mental health is a serious problem in the US and around the world. Based on these numbers, and if you compare them to the discourse I see in my life (online and in my daily life), these statistics would suggest that more mental health should be talked about. Yes, working on our mental health can often seem like an uphill battle, but there are also many other aspects of mental health that are far less discussed and I think it’s these things that can lead people to do so.
Reason 2: I want to be positive without practicing “toxic positivity”. I admit that part of my desire to explain my attitude stems from a phrase I recently learned: toxic positivity. The idea is that you (or someone you interact with) are so positive that it will actually be detrimental to your wellbeing. Examples are sentences like “It’s not that bad” or “Just stay positive”. Things confirm that you should always try to have a positive attitude. While I think there are times when it can be helpful to look at the positive aspects of a situation, optimism doesn’t mean there won’t be tough times – of course there will be! And in the mental health realm, they’re happening more than you want to know.
Reason 3: Optimism helps me take care of myself. Writing about mental health from a semi-full perspective will allow me to create more content, learn more about mental health, and actually make this blog what I hope to be some day. Optimism gets me out of bed most days, makes me work on time, helps me be productive when I don’t think I can, and helps me function when my depressed brain isn’t always working well . Do I want this setting all the time? No, not even a little. But it has helped me in so many ways, and if it keeps me going I will take it.
Reason 4: I have enough negativity on my own head! To be honest, it can get stressful in my head. Negative thoughts, intrusive thoughts, depressive thoughts, you name it. And while we all have ways to deal with and deal with it, it’s a great way to work on my optimism by encouraging others to channel my attitude and energy, especially when I am encouraging other people I am encouraging myself at the same time.
Reason 5: I need some hope in my life. I’m sure there are far better and more practical reasons to be optimistic about how we can improve mental wellbeing. But honestly, one of the biggest reasons I write this way is because I need hope in my life. Sometimes it’s a specific hope and sometimes it’s a little vague, but the feeling remains the same. Because I have often felt hopeless and worthless and learned that I need hope in order to survive – whether day after day, hour after hour or even from one moment to the next. And if you struggle daily you will take advantage of every advantage you can get.
There are many other reasons why I write the way I do and have the attitudes I have about mental health, but I thought these five give some insight into who I am as a writer and as a person. I believe there are many valid approaches to mental health and it is extremely important to find what works for you. That’s why I want to hear from you! Do you know why you think / feel the way you do with mental health? I am listening!