What ‘Sarahah’ Made Me Realize About Silence and Mental Health

The stigma surrounding mental health speaks volumes, while those who struggle with mental illnesses feel as though they need to keep silent. If you take a moment to look around and observe the people around you, do you wonder what is going on in their heads?

I don’t ever really talk about my anxiety and depression. It is common for those who struggle with mental health conditions to feel uncomfortable talking openly about their experiences because it can be difficult for others to know how to listen and respond in helpful ways. In order for people to feel comfortable sharing, we must first help others learn how to approach these conversations, so that no one ever has to say, “My parents don’t believe me when I tell them I have depression,” or “Whenever I try to talk to my friends about it, they don’t really think of it as serious.”

Last week, I used the app “Sarahah” to give people an anonymous space to share their mental health struggles. I had used Sarahah, a social networking service for providing anonymous feedback, once before to collect honest opinions about myself. I got a lot of comments saying that I was emotional and overreacted at everything. It was difficult to read those comments, and as I read on, I began to believe them.

Those people do not know what I have been through and do not try to understand. While these comments still bother me at times, it has made me realize that communication about mental health conditions is more necessary than ever. I think it is important for students to realize no matter how “perfect” lives may seem, it does not at all mean that person couldn’t be struggling with mental illness.

Many people resist talking about mental health conditions because it is difficult. I have been through difficult situations, and I try to talk about them so that people might not feel as alone. Many people, even at our school, have commented on Sarahah that they felt “forever alone in endless ways.” I am also sharing my experiences so that I can move on and learn about my strengths and weaknesses.

Treating mental health conditions takes time, pain, difficult discussions and tears, as well as happiness and smiles. While struggling with depression, I have learned that some of the best things a person can do is to distract themselves and talk to someone. Asking for help is OK. Please do not hold your struggle in. I’ve found really positive friends in my life who have helped me manage my depression by distracting me and helping me to keep busy. The most important lesson I have learned though is to pay more attention to others. As you walk the halls every day, remember that you might not know everything going on in other people’s lives. They are not alone, and neither are you.

Previously published in the author’s school newspaper column.

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