Mental Realness is making a decision to live emotionally authentic by being in tune with your feelings, the good and the bad, and making a choice not to let your emotions define you, but to engage in the best practices that elevate your lifestyle and provide you with a greater sense of mental health.
Life has its ups and downs. I’m sure we’ve all been in deep dark spaces and hit roadblocks as we’ve tried to journey and evolve through the phases of life.
I remember hitting my first roadblock with emotional wellness when I was diagnosed with severe depression at 16 years old. At the time I had been through many tough seasons and I had finally hit rock bottom. I hit my low point so bad that I attempted suicide not once, but twice. The backstory of my depression explores the themes of self-hate, tragedy, and loss. As a child, I was a victim of intense bullying and I grew up carrying the lies that people said to me. I allowed this burden to weigh me down and it took my confidence and self-esteem right along with it.
I hid behind my wounds and blanketed myself in my sorrows. My suicide attempts led to my struggle with self-harm and I began to engage in self-destructive behaviors. I never knew how to talk to people about the issues that I was dealing with in private. I have always been the quiet and shy type. I’m an introvert and I find it difficult, sometimes even painful, to form connections and engage in conversation with other beings. I taught myself to live isolated from the world, not by choice, but because isolation is a major symptom of depression and for so long my diagnosis went untreated.
Cutting was not something that I could continue to hide. The summer air was warm and blazing, and hiding under long sleeve shirts was not an option for me anymore. I tried to hide in plain sight but that did not work. My scars became visible to the world, and one day when a friend of mine noticed my wounds; the shame was so intense and heavy that I decided to make the bold step to seek treatment.
After years of being in therapy and following strict wellness plans, I came to the decision that I needed to engage in the right tools that would help me to be my best self and would help with combatting my depression. So I decided to become an entrepreneur. Sounds like a crazy wellness plan right? I admit it’s a little crazy, but it has contributed to my growth in many beautiful ways.
As a social worker and therapist myself, I wanted to offer non-traditional support to those who struggled with the same issues that I faced in life, so back in 2014, I started Respect Your Struggle, a digital magazine that cultivates conversations around mental health and provides self-care tools to empower beings through the mind, body, soul and spirit.
Through all the hurt, triumph and pain, I have learned the value of mental realness in my personal and professional life, and it is something that I believe all entrepreneurs should practice.
I know so many entrepreneurs who experience burn out way too early in the game. We experience a setback, fear creeps inside our bones, or the great plan we had turned into an epic fail and that wave of anxiety cripples us and induces a feeling of not being good enough or capable enough.
Some of us are simply overworked. We can’t seem to put our phones down, we are on our laptops from 5am-3am, and then we think over indulging in caffeine is the holy bible to thriving and operating on full. Wrong. We need to learn how to check in with ourselves and know when a break in routine is much needed.
Mental realness gives you the ability to check in with your emotional levels before you hit that breaking point so that you can know what needs to be reevaluated and readjusted before you go for the next big gig or project. We need to be actively engaged in our mental awareness because it gives us a sense of balance and cultivates happiness and peace. Understand that the best preventive medicine for a long term and successful career is being in tune with your well-being and creating a wellness plan that offers sustainability and is edifying for your soul.
If we could learn how to be more intentional about our mental state the same way we are intentional about deadlines and business goals, we could be thriving in ways that would essentially be beneficial not only to ourselves but to our businesses.
Take a step back to soak in the moment. Are you practicing mental realness or are you brushing off your emotions so that you can meet your deadlines and complete your goals? After spending years in therapy and being diagnosed with depression, take it from someone like me who believes in the importance of a balanced life, not only for your professional benefit but also for the longevity of your life.
Let us be more in tune with our mental health as entrepreneurs and in the many other roles that we play. Find support, stay encouraged and practice the art of keeping it real when it comes to your emotions.