I remember the first time I thought something bad about myself. I was a six years old in my first-grade language arts class. My favorite color was pink, and my best friend was Nicole. I liked stuffed animals and Madeline. I don’t remember much more than that, but I remember the thought.
“I am stupid.”
Before I continue, I want to clarify something. I am not stupid. No one had ever told me I was stupid. I’m not completely confident I was even allowed to say stupid. Nevertheless, in came the thought.
It crept into the middle of my mind slowly then exploded into my consciousness. I sat quietly as the other students tended their worksheets. No one saw the intruding thought slither in through my ears and start to wreak havoc behind my eyeballs.
As the thought settled in, it began to feel true. That nasty thought had already started to pull at the strings in my mind. I gripped my No.2 pencil with my tiny hand, and with my nose to the page, I carefully wrote “I am stupid” at the bottom of my worksheet.
As I thought about how to begin this blog, this is the moment that came to mind. In truth, I haven’t thought about this moment much throughout my life. I hardly remember any of the details. It isn’t the defining moment of my mental journey. It’s just a moment. A thought lingered in my mind. I let it out of my head to see if it was true.
“A thought lingered in my mind. I let it out of my head to see if it was true.”
Many of us tame the instinct to let our thoughts out into the air. I know I have. Keeping my thoughts, emotions and experiences to myself has torn at my mind too many times to count. Close friends and family members have suffered horrible mental illnesses in silence to avoid posing an inconvenience.
Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve circled back to the notion that letting thoughts out—the good and the bad—is clarifying. It’s a form of mental self-care to write it down, say it out loud, tell your best friend (or anyone really) what you’re thinking; just get the thought out and see how it looks in the daylight.
So, I’m going to walk through my own stories of mental illness and mental triumph on this blog. By sharing my thoughts and experiences about mental wellness, I hope the true stuff will stick out to the both of us. We can use that truth to keep our minds healthy and strong.