Unless it's No-Shave November, I don't pay much attention to "themed months". But recently it came to my attention that May is Mental Health Awareness month. I found this out when a former classmate of mine, always known for being hilarious and popular, posted the reminder as his Facebook status.
In it, he said the pressures of always being "the good single dad" in the neighborhood, as well as the funniest person on Twitter, can sometimes get to him, but it's okay to not be okay--and to talk about that.
I've always prided myself on "being strong." Stronger than anyone else in the room. But when there's no one else near me, and I don't have to be the captain of the cruise ship, something comes over me. Hint: it's the temptation to lie on my bedroom floor in the middle of the day and literally-cannot. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what giving into anxiety looks like.
Unlike my classmate, I may not have to fake a smile while running carpool or deal with the pressure of anyone actually reading my tweets (unless they are about Harry Styles, then it's a different ball game), but there are things in my life that choke me out more than they should. There are DIRECTV bills to dispute, impossible deadlines to meet, difficult people to please, places to be that I don't necessarily want to go, dogs to walk in the rain, etc.
As insignificant as any of those seem, let me assure you that "being strong" sometimes doesn't even begin to make a dent in any of that.
But what I've learned is that strong doesn't mean you are a 24/7 QuickStop, servicing all things for all people. Being strong doesn't make you a vending machine that hums with the light on and never gets unplugged. Strong also doesn't mean you can't ever be sad. It doesn't mean you can't struggle. Or that you have to do everything alone. Or carry all of the weight, at all of the times.
And most of all, strong is not powering through, it's working through, so that you can in fact come out a bigger, better person.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to be late for therapy.