Today is World Mental Health Day. In case you didn’t read and pick up on this from my last VICE column about death and thinking I had no friends, I had been acting rather depressed, whiney and was feeling quite jaded about humans. OK, I was acting a bit like a spoiled brat. I had hurt people, I had been hurt. Cue Johnny Cash, in the one cover I prefer to the original: “I will let you down, I will make you hurt.”
A while back I wrote of the time my kitty, Mama Cat, who was once upon a time a homeless teenage mom, had bit me and sent me to the hospital. She didn’t want to intentionally hurt me, she bit me because I had left her alone for Christmas, felt abandoned and was going through her own issues. Her biting response was instinctual. While our bodies, brains, and experiences vary vastly from a house cat, we are still animals. It is a cliché, but there is truth to “It’s not you, it’s me.” Often when we hurt others it is because we are reacting from a place of pain, and when someone else lets you down, you must remember they are dealing with their own struggles. Sometimes the best way to be there for someone you care about is to give them their space and let them heal. Just as I would like to be forgiven for the times I acted like an asshole to others, I forgive those who have hurt me, understanding that their actions may be coming from a place of their own pain, and not to take everything so personal.
Depression, anxiety, or other forms of mental issues are something that most of us, more people than you think, will likely struggle with to some degree from the rest of our lives. This weekend I’ll have a new column go up, one intentionally more about living than dying. I’ve learned you can’t depend on anyone else to fix you, and you can’t truly be there for anyone else until you have healed yourself. For therapy, some people run, others play guitar, some paint, I write. To write I must experience, because as great as Netflix is, reruns of shows I’ve already seen don’t provide the same creative inspiration of the oddities I encounter when I leave my apartment.
Whatever your therapy is, tonight, and as many nights as you can, get out there and do it. And may we forgive — forgive ourselves for inflecting pain, and forgive those who have hurt us, as we never truly know what someone is going through, and kindness and forgiveness provide more healing and emotional freedom than resentment.
Happy World Mental Health Day.