A Mental Health Awareness Month Rant, From Someone In The Trenches

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’m posting about it because I (alas) have lived experience. Because I know some of y’all tend to require receipts from Black women: HIPAA laws exist for a reason. It is not your business; however, I am choosing to share.

That said: my neurodivergence, introversion, depression, and suicidality are not, in my view, pathologies. They are just a part of my makeup and life story. Many of us do not choose to share these aspects of our lives because there is *still* a stigma associated with mental health. I have definitely lost friends, and probably job opportunities too, after sharing my truth. Am probably about to lose some more. But it is what it is. So although I am taking a risk by posting this, the cause is more than worth it. I am hoping to play a tiny part in smashing those stigmas. Yes, I have taken medication in the past. No, it’s not “my thing.” Yes I want to help raise awareness. No, I am not looking for pity.

Support: yes. Empathy: yes. Kindness: yes. Grace: yes. Pity: No. 

I do struggle to focus my thoughts sometimes, so I will deliver them how they come to me and hope that I will be granted grace. 

A note: This is a “To Whom It May Concern” post. If it doesn’t concern you, please feel free to carry on, commentless. 

On Posting For Points:

I don’t have time or patience for the performative posts from companies and content creators who are only out to collect gold stars and brownie points. Trying to capitalize on an issue because it’s “trending” is the lowest of the low. We see you. We can tell the difference between the real and the fake. People are out here suffering and unfortunately sometimes dying; meanwhile you are trying to design your IG grid. Like…wow.  

On Unsafe Office Cultures:

Your company is a morass of microaggressions. You advertise your culture as being safe, but allow bullies, seggsual predators, and ra-cists to remain, and prosper. Ergo: not safe. 

You post about “being kind,” but treat your assistants, BIPOC employees, or anyone you consider to be “beneath” you like dirt. Underpay them. Overload them. Micro-manage them. You thrive on toxicity and chaos, then wonder why turnover is so high. It’s because, at least in part, the environment is mentally and emotionally unsafe. For some, those environments are unsurvivable.

You post that “it’s ok to not be ok;” you tell your employees to “speak up” if they need support; but if they do, you (further) marginalize them, dismiss them, judge them, gaslight them, tell them that they just need to work harder/be more organized, and then PIP them out of the org. 

All of this affects mental health. 

On The System:

Why I have led with all of the above is because this society is highly individualistic, which makes it easy to place the entire burden for mental wellness on, well, individuals. I am not by any means stating that people don’t/shouldn’t have accountability where possible, but we are all operating within a system. And the system is toxic. The system is traumatic. The system does not support mental health. 

No amount of 5-minute meditation breaks, walks around the park, quiet rooms, random perks, “summer Fridays, but account for every second,” etc. etc. etc. is going to help an employee that is burned out, overloaded, and drowning. None of that is going to help an employee that either can’t go on vacation, or that *is* allowed to take time off—as long as they check in daily. This is, by definition, not a break. 

The system needs a reboot. 

On Ups And Downs:

No season is linear. For me, there have been highs, but also lows. Some of you have seen/been a part of the peaks, but this is a reminder that valleys exist. I am posting this because I am struggling right now. I know many others are too. And there is a lot of performative, public-facing “caring” with little actual IRL support. Do better. Instead of “thoughts and prayers,” try actions. Verbs are supreme. 

It’s ok to actually do something when someone is not ok.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. 


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Unless otherwise stated, text and images ⒸLisa Hurley/@happyhappyphoenix

Comments

  1. Joe C. says:

    This is so powerful, Lisa. Thank you for saying it. Part of what I take from this is a reminder to be willing to hear what people are really asking for and to negotiate in an open manner & make it happen. The “we’re with you” statements in public paired with “sorry, you’re on your own” in private actually compounds/increases grief and stress for many of us.

    1. Thanks so much, Joe

  2. Kathleen+Hurley says:

    A very clear and much-needed ‘talk’, Lisa. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much, Mama 🙂

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