What If…We Talk About It

After Simone Biles’s surprising withdrawal from the team 🥇final and individual all-around 🤸🏻‍♀️competitions, the topic of mental health was pushed to the forefront. This is the place where it belongs. ‼️Whether we like to admit it, it’s safe to say that most of us deal with mental health struggles at some point in our lives. 🙋🏻‍♀️According to Johns Hopkins, about 1 in 4 adults (18 or older) have diagnosable mental disorders. It’s hard to decipher the mixed messages in our brains sometimes. I’m going to share an excerpt from my 📘book, LIFEGUARD (available on Amazon), to explain my connection and why I think mental health should be a priority.

🌤”It’s probably a good time to admit that I have OCD. There’s a preconceived notion that having OCD means noticing a picture frame that’s crooked or organizing closets by color. There are memes about mixing stripes with plaids and jokes about germaphobes. The manufactured humor doesn’t quite show the full story, though. I silently cringe when people laugh and proclaim, “I’m so OCD!” as they shine a scuff on their shoes. If they were really “so OCD,” they would understand that it’s not a joke.

🌤Those three initials stand for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I was diagnosed with this when I was in my early 20s, and it was governing my life. I went from simply double-checking that I turned off the oven, locked the door, or unplugged my curling iron to following strict rituals with specific patterns that took hours out of my days. I couldn’t wear purple. I washed my hands until the knuckles bled. I counted everything from the strokes of shaving my legs to the steps as I walked down the hall, always in multiples of threes or tens. If I was interrupted during a ritual, I was compelled to start over.

🌤People with OCD aren’t necessarily bothered by uneven lines or unorganized drawers. Often, we feel that we must follow our rituals or stop on certain numbers or redo patterns until it “feels” right. If we venture astray, something terrible could happen. That something terrible varies for each of us.

🌤My OCD used to be a massive issue for me. It was a concern that I kept well hidden from those around me. People with OCD are incredibly talented at making rituals fit into normal life without drawing any attention. I was no different. I understood that my OCD rituals were rooted in irrational fear. I also recognized that I had the power to overcome. Behavior therapy was my savior.

🌤Years later, it is still a necessary part of my existence. My OCD is well controlled, which is not to say that I’m cured. I still count in tens and threes, put on my right shoes before my left, and only stop the stereo volume on even numbers unless it ends in a 5. Some days are better than others. I accepted that long ago.”

It’s such a small part of who I am, but it is a part of who I am. 😊Mental health struggles are part of many people you know and love, too. 😬Stress. Bipolar disorder. Disordered eating. PTSD. ☠️Phobias. Panic. 😥Grief. The list goes on. With his permission, I can say that my son uses therapy and 💊medication to effectively handle his depression and anxiety diagnoses. Many friends do the same. Some need help for an acute situation that has derailed their lives. Others, like my son and me, deal with our issues daily. Our minds hold 🌈dreams, but they can also become 😔dungeons.

Want to know something? Putting a focus on our mental health should never carry a negative stigma. Taking care of our mind and body are equally important. 💯We go to the 🩺doctor when we need 💊prescriptions or stitches or surgery because we want to heal. What if…we talk about it? Thanks to Simone Biles’s withdrawal from the competition, we know the 🐐GOAT understands mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness. 🙌🏻Do whatever you need to do to keep your mind healthy, too. YOU- all parts of you- matter, always!💖

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