I feel like so many of us struggle, especially now with the world as it is, with things unsaid, things unshared, and things unacknowledged. We don’t talk about what is hurting us, what makes us who we are, and what affects how we behave. We don’t have enough empathy and tolerance for the lives people have lived and the roads their lives have taken. If we did, perhaps we would hold each other in esteem, raise each other up, and understand when another is triggered. Not expect more from each other than who we are. Not forget everyone has a story that we do not see. We need to talk about women’s mental health – and specifically women over 50.
I Want to Start a Conversation About Mental Health for Women Over 50…
A lot of what makes a mental health issue, well, an issue, is how we were taught to hold feelings in… or perhaps, not to allow those feelings in. But they do come in, they are there, and they build. They build brick by brick, sealing our feelings in a tomb of aloneness, all because we don’t have a way to push through the mortar and concrete that suffocate us, that terrifies us of opening up the wall, that shames us into pulling more concrete over those stones.
I was born a frightened soul. My youngest memories are of being afraid of the world, of pulling back into myself to protect my gentle heart, so that it would not be swallowed up into the mire of life. It is who I have been since time began for me. It is who I will be until I leave this world. And my life experiences, some within my control, many beyond it, have verified that for me, pulling back was the only place that was safe. It doesn’t mean I haven’t learned, and grown, and changed. It doesn’t mean I still can’t try to be more open with people, more engaged with the world. But I have pain, I have baggage. I have darkness. And I suspect, maybe some of you do too.
I am also an empath. That means I absorb the pain of others into my own consciousness. It’s a blessing at times. I am proud I am a person of heart, of caring, of deep empathy. I wear my heart on my sleeve unapologetically. But it also means I tend to absorb and carry others burdens. And frankly, I have enough of my own. But it is who I am. I am there for the people I love. In any way they need me. And I also feel deeply for total strangers. We are all in this walk through life together, are we not? I wouldn’t want to be any other way.
Instead of feeling free to be proud of how far I have been able to heal, how far I have been able to rise above, there is still this expectation from the world for me to be light, and unencumbered with darkness. That anything less makes me difficult to be around, or an awkward dinner companion, or frankly, not the life of the party. The charmer. The sweet uplifting girl. Part of that is the generation I grew up in. Those expectations.
Here is the truth. Sometimes, I don’t feel sweet and light. Sometimes a person behaves in a way that triggers me. That is not kind, that is not selfless. That is not good. And in my heart, everything I’ve overcome, everything I have learned, every darkness that I have brought to the light… If in these moments, I don’t stand up to things that I think are wrong, then I betray myself. And if the world asks me not to react, isn’t it betraying me?
Not that I can’t learn to do all that with a little less passive aggressiveness. There are positive ways to react to triggers. I have not found them all yet. I am learning. I am growing. 50+ years of learning, so far.
Part Mindset Coach – All Middle Girl
So here is the conversation I want to start. I want women, especially women of my generation, to feel like they can share who they are. That they don’t have to hide behind a veil of shame. That the people who love them (should) understand. That they don’t have to be or feel anything that they don’t feel. Think of me as your “Middle Girl” mindset coach! 😉 But I can’t ask you to open your hearts if I’m not willing to do the same. Let’s be brave together? Here are some factors affecting women’s mental health. At least mine. 🙂
My truths, without revealing the truths of others…
- I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life.
- I have been sexually abused, more than once, and by people I should have been able to trust.
- I have been the victim of abuse. (The impact of domestic violence on women’s mental health is HUGE.)
- I have suffered the alcohol and drug abuse of people I have loved.
- I have suffered traumas and tragedies.
- I suffer from numerous chronic pain auto immune diseases that leave me frustrated, fatigued, foggy, and in fear for my future.
- Menopause. (Nothing more to be said, there. :))
- I find myself in a situation that triggers a memory of one or more of those truths almost every single day.
- I see the ramifications of negative decisions I made while young hurting the people I love most in this world, and the guilt from things I cannot change is a constant companion.
- I live everyday trying to forgive myself, heal myself, and learning to love myself.
- I am not there yet. Do any of us get all the way there? Or is it the journey that counts the most? I’m hoping it’s the latter…
- There are still days I feel pain so intensely I don’t know how to move forward, so I close down. It is self survival. It is what I must do to live with it all.
- I hope I always find the strength, as I do today, to pick myself up and move forward, one more step, one more day. That I will always have faith in a more joyful future.
- I hope cracking open my heart and soul helps just one person feel like they can do the same.
- I hope speaking my truths helps someone pry open that vault, stop feeling like they must bury themselves alive to fit into society’s norms.
Women’s Mental Health
Women’s mental health issues affect us all. Develop compassion for mental health – yours and others. Stop asking the ones you love to bury themselves, and stop letting others pile the stones on you. Hell, stop asking total damn strangers to bury themselves. Instead, look into that sad stare and ask yourselves… what have they had to do just to get to today?
What have you?
I want each and every one of us to examine what depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders have to do with us. You. Maybe it’s just getting to this point in our lives and recognizing that it is an issue. Or reaching a breaking point, or seeing mental health issue in our children and realizing we can use our experience to help. Them, AND us. Let’s open our minds and hearts, and get to the source of our pain, and make it ok for others to get to the source of theirs.
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