a discovery of mental health -- ali happer
One thing I am very aware of in the mental health space is my privilege. I am a straight, white female, from an upper-middle-class family, whose parents had a happy marriage, until my mother passed away recently. I have had a good & easy life thus far & am very aware of how far ahead that has set me.
Being consciously aware of the state of my mental health has been something that I’ve always strived for. When I reflect on my life, I usually say I live & experience emotions on a scale, & I tend to stay between 4 and 8. I try to stay away from extreme emotions & have conditioned myself to live my life straight down the middle. I’ve taught myself that it’s safer & easier to live that way. I can be ‘good’ at all times & never need to address hard things.
But along with that comes a lot of self-sacrificing, in order to keep the peace.
As I’ve grown & learned over the last couple of years, I have seen how that has limited me in so many ways. I’ve kept myself small & agreeable in order to be available to everyone around me. & when I saw that that was doing more damage than good, I knew something needed to change.
I began a journey with my therapist [who I am eternally grateful for & also acknowledge the privilege I have in order to see her frequently] to uncover the deep-rooted systems that I have created in my mind & to re-route them. I’ve learned to celebrate myself, to love my younger self & thank her for all the things she gave me. I have been able to dig into my deeper emotions, anger, sadness & I am currently working on a big one -- fun & joy.
Early last year I started a journey with feeling my emotions fully. I knew my mom was nearing the end of her life & experiencing a deep sadness came along with that. Feeling my emotions was new for me. I learned to let them come like a wave, letting them wash over me & then ultimately washing away. That was healing for me. I know that it’s not that way for everyone, but that is what has guided me on this journey of being in tune with my mental health.
Gratitude, journaling & celebrating the people around me have been my three main focuses. They have kept me grounded, present & in touch with what I’m feeling. Mental health is not a destination. We never arrive or accomplish complete wholeness. But for me, the first step was looking at myself, allow myself to feel my emotions fully & surrounding myself with people who accepted me where I was at. I am grateful for the journey, even the painful parts.
‘I am perfectly created. I am a wonderfully unique individual. Every lesson I have learned, every risk I have taken, and every achievement I have made contributed to who I am. Because of that, I am whole.’