The One Thing We All Have In Common
I can still remember the first time it happened.
I was sitting in Mr. Wolverton’s 7th grade science class watching the movie Into Thin Air: Death on Everest, based on the book by Jon Krakauer. The movie showed how a group climbing Mt. Everest got caught in a massive storm. One by one, they died off. It was HORRIFYING. I sat there, feeling overwhelmed by what I was seeing, but not being able to look away.
That’s when it hit me.
I started hyperventilating. My muscles became tense, so tense that my tiny hands balled up into stiff fists. I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out. My face was going numb. That’s when Jamal, one of my classmates, noticed I wasn’t well and immediately announced to the class that I was going to throw up.
He ran to get a trash can, but the vomit never came. By the time the nurse came to take me to the office, the lights had been turned on and the entire class was staring at me with concerned looks on their faces.
After looking me over and finding nothing physically wrong with me, they sent me home. It wasn’t until years later that I was able to identify what had happened to me that day.
It had been a panic attack.
Mental Health Is An Everyone Thing
A few weeks ago, Kevin Love was trending on Twitter and not for the reasons an NBA player usually is. In an article in The Player’s Tribune, Love opens up about his first anxiety attack and how that changed his views on mental health. The two things that struck me the most from his article were the things I think many of us experience:
Why am I feeling this way when my life is so good?
Why am I so concerned about people finding out?
There is a sense of guilt and shame around feeling this way when we know that there are people who are suffering more than us. That’s just it though. Just because there are other people that are suffering doesn’t diminish the fact that we are suffering too. Kevin Love expressed that though he had a seemingly great life, he had suffered greatly by the loss of his grandmother. By not addressing his feelings of loss in the moment, they festered and manifested in the form of anxiety.
Love ends the article by explaining how important it is to take care of ourselves and to know that we aren’t going through it alone.
We All Have One Thing In Common
When a friend cancels on the plans you guys had planned over three months in advance 30 minutes before you're supposed to meet, it’s easy to take things personally. That is until you find out that your friend had to put their dog down because it was terminally ill.
When it comes to what we all have in common, Kevin Love said it best:
I often wonder what the world might be like if we spent a bit more time being more compassionate towards others, even if we just start with the people that are already in our lives. In all of my experiences, I found that when I just listened and was vulnerable with others, I had a clearer understanding of why they were the way they were. This came in handy especially in teaching teenagers, because most of the time, they were going through something difficult.
Even for those of us who spend our lives focused on self-care and the care of others, we still find it hard sometimes to share when we’re going through a difficult time. We put on a brave face and go on about our day as if nothing is wrong. We try not to inconvenience others, as we don’t want to add one more thing to their plate by sharing our problems with them. Though as I’ve experienced recently, that’s when the breakthroughs happen.
This week, as you’re going about your week, I’d like to ask you to focus on a few things:
Be a bit more honest.
Most importantly, assume everyone is going through something. If you’re having a conversation with someone, take a bit more time to ask them about how things are going and genuinely mean it. Observe the tone of their voice and their body language. See how your interactions with others change. Do you notice anything different?
And if you are going through something, sit down with a trusted friend and say so. Being a bit more honest with ourselves and with others is what forms deeper, meaningful connections. It’s when we begin to be kind to ourselves that we can truly be kind towards others.
Related Additional Resources
- TED Talk - There's No Shame In Taking Care of Your Mental Health
- Sangu Delle talks about the historical and cultural reasons men don't seek support in Africa.
- Movember Foundation
- With participants in over 21 countries, his non-profit is dedicated to helping men live happier, healthier, and longer lives.
- This app is making it simple to incorporate a few minutes of mindful meditation into your day.
Have you experienced something similar? What are some things you found to be beneficial to you or to others? Share in the comments below!