“The culture of shame is driven by fear, blame, and disconnection, and it is often a powerful incubator for issues like perfectionism, stereotyping, gossiping, and addiction.” – Brené Brown
I can still remember the first time I opened up to a friend about my anxiety. It had been two years of searching for solutions on my own, trying to look like I had it all together on social media while feeling like I was slowly unraveling on the inside. When I told him, over coffee after a night of especially awful sleep, it was the first time I’d admitted to anyone that I wasn’t okay.
And the first thing he said? “Me too.”
Renowned vulnerability researcher Brené Brown wrote: “One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on ‘going it alone.’ Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into ‘those who offer help’ and ‘those who need help.’” We’ve created a culture where it isn’t always safe to admit the ways we’re struggling. And by doing so, we’ve made anyone who struggles less safe.
Here at Joi, our core mission is to make the conversation about mental health so normal, so part of our everyday vocabulary that we never hesitate to ask for the help we need as soon as we need it. Because forging those connections REALLY matters. And taking advantage of the natural resources available that help us live well with anxiety, sleep better, and stay healthy should be something we’re PROUD of, not something we have to hide.
Since that first conversation, talking about my own experience with anxiety has become my new normal. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve shared my story with someone only to find out that they have a story of their own to share. After all, with over 40 million Americans living with anxiety, it’s not hard to find a friend who knows what you’ve been through.
We’re better together. Let’s start sharing our stories and help each other get well.