Mentally healthy? Nope.


Recent article You Are Good Enough speaks out on mental health issues

Mental health needs to be discussed publically more seriously/haley klassen

Mental health needs to be discussed publically more seriously/haley klassen

On Aug. 11, 2014, Robin Williams committed suicide in his California home. The news exploded across North America.

I was shocked. Every time I read something about him, my heart dropped as if I knew him, and in a way, I was connected to him. Our generation grew up watching Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, Hook, Good Will Hunting, Aladdin, and so many more of his great films.

He was the movie hero of my childhood, and I could not believe that he had been so tormented and in such despair, that he took his own life. He made me laugh, so surely he was happy…or so I assumed.

Unfortunately, artists are one of the most likely groups of people to be affected by mental illness. Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other conditions are more common among artists than any other professionals.

Strangely, artists, in particular performing artists, are idealized in our culture. Famous actors are role models for many, but unfortunately, more time is spent on their exterior qualities than their true inner-selves.

To be fair, mental health awareness is becoming more and more publicized, but there is still much more to be understood. The great challenge in understanding mental illness exists because it is manifested in individuals, and is thus slightly different in each person.

“My hope is that beyond awareness about mental health, there will be a greater appreciation and better understanding that ‘mental health’ is not just obtained overnight or with a pop of a pill. It is a journey requiring an ongoing commitment to building and continually strengthening our self worth, which extends to our belief in our chosen craft. Doing this makes one less susceptible to or dependent upon the constant judgments cast by other people or ‘society,’” clinical hypnotherapist Sherly Sulairman wrote in an email correspondence.

Sulairman recently wrote an article entitled You Are Good Enough, addressing depression and feelings of failure in artists. In it, she argues that our insecurities root from our childhood experiences, and they constantly lie beneath our happy selves, emerging when something negative happens to us.

In order to stop the cyclical fall into a depressed state, we must find a way to change those deep-rooted beliefs so that when life inevitably throws us a curve ball, we do not sink into feelings of failure. Sulairman likens these deep-rooted beliefs to a software program:

“Your unconscious mind is like the hardware that stores everything,” she writes. “You need to learn and gain insight into your mind so that you can change, delete or update the software – your beliefs.”

Our biggest challenge, then, is not to change society or our culture; we do not need to try to change an outside force. Instead, we must change our own selves, change how we view others around us, and change how we react to challenges we face and the challenges we see others face.

“We tend to see ‘society’ or ‘industry’ as an external power or omniscient being. It’s not how can society or an industry change, but how we, as people, choose to behave or change within that broader society/industry,” Sulairman explains.

Sulairman goes on to say, “‘Change’ must take place internally, not externally, with the individual constantly cultivating a strong foundation of inner strength and self worth. Society (people) only dictates our own self worth if we let it. This is not a ‘problem,’ per se, but an ongoing challenge that we all face in our daily lives, not just artists.”

So, it is up to all of us to work within ourselves to help, not only our own happiness and healthiness, but those of everyone around us. Becoming more aware that insecurities play a large role in everyday interactions could potentially help us all become a little more understanding and maybe even happy.

As Sulairman writes it in her article, “Believe that you are good enough and you will be.”

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