Making sure you and yourself get your stories straight after a lifetime of rewrites and you’re never finished. By the time you realize who the editor is, you realize it was pointless to get mad that he sent the story boards back over, and over, and over again. And when you come to understand that there really was a deadline, but you were never going to know when it was, is when you can finally sit and write properly.

Then you come to understand that depression is real, but you probably don’t have it. Maybe you do, but you won’t know until you write the next few pages as beautifully as you possibly can and check how much ink is left. The despair you felt was a result of seeing page after page you left blank. Depression is when you do your best to fill the pages but become morose at knowing they can’t be written again, and can only be re-read with limited measures of fulfillment. It’s like every memory – even the best ones – are laden with the gloom of inevitably grieving their ends. In other words, every good memory you have represents a dead thing; a time that died as soon as everyone went home and took their joy with them. Depression isn’t the consequence of laziness. Depression is a constant state of mourning, even if it’s for nothing.

When your story becomes a love story, you realize that love has little to do with exuberance and is more the chronic attempt to make someone immune from the worst parts of you. And if you have a hard time remembering what those are, you can always flip the pages back and see the plot devices you couldn’t stop using no matter how many times they got you into trouble. Mental health is completing your redemption arcs. Love is cashing in on the redemption.

To better understand what mental health is, we must also paint a clear picture of what mental health is not.

It is not maintaining a state of weakness and mistaking it for virtue. This is called victim mindset (I.e., manipulation).

It is not withholding from your therapist. That is just lying.

It is not claiming to be working on yourself but neglecting to yield results. That is just lying too.

It is not attributing everything to a trauma response. This is lazy psychobabble. Or, put simply, bullshit.

It is not claiming everyone you disagree with is gaslighting you, or calling everyone you had a falling out with a narcissist, or cutting off everyone that disrupts your “peace” without any attempt at communication. These are also called bullshit.

It is not denying that many people claiming to care about mental health, are completely full of said bullshit, and doing the best you can anyway.

Thus, mental health is…

…the lifelong attempt at ensuring your nervous system agrees with the quality of your character. It is understanding that Freud didn’t tell anyone to be a decent person and Maslow didn’t include honesty in the hierarchy of needs. Because mental health is predicated on the assumption that you’re already doing your part to deserve those needs being fulfilled.

Mental health, in its full realization, is the form of a champion bodybuilder, whose physique we may never achieve, but will do extraordinarily well if we work to attain it anyway.

Stay with us. We need you.

This piece was originally published in the March edition of the Rob Naylor Jr. Newsletter.
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