How is it almost August already?! I feel like just yesterday we were in January and talking about goals and the new year ahead of us and then WHAM, it is already August! It’s been a minute since I last wrote on the blog and I’ve decided I’m going to practice what I tell my clients - let it go because good enough is good enough. I am working towards progress not perfection. I am confident that I have been present and leaning in as clients are vulnerable and working through hard things each day with me. My new commitment is to add to the blog as often as I can while juggling all the things that go into running a small business and private practice along with many other “plates” I hold! So, let’s do this. Today I want to talk about the stigma of mental health and openly practicing taking care of yourself.
Is anyone else excited about the Olympics? I have long been an avid fan of both the winter and summer Olympics and this year is no different. As a little girl I took gymnastics at the local rec center and had bold dreams of maybe being an Olympian one day...until I realized I loved volleyball more and then switched courses (to be clear, I was never an Olympian, but am still an avid fan of all things Olympics). You’d better believe I cheered on The Magnificent 7 USA Women’s Gymnastics Team of 1996. Complete with the poster on my wall, Shannon Miller bangs, and the Kerri Strug haircut (if you know, you know).
You’re probably asking yourself, JoEllen, what does all this have to do with counseling and mental health. Glad you asked! If you’ve been tuning into the Olympics, scrolling through social media, or watching the news highlights, chances are you’ve seen the news about Simone Biles (the absolute GOAT of gymnastics) pulling out of the competition to take care of her mental health. Listen. This is huge. This is a world class athlete setting the example and helping to shatter the stigma that we have to power through when our mental health is literally impacting our life and performance. Here is what I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, even though I’ve obviously never spoken to Simone. The pressure she has been under is immense. She is carrying the weight of her team, her coaches, and her country on her shoulders. Not to mention surviving years of abuse from a team doctor and all the trauma that comes along with that. And while some will say, “well, she needed to push through and show some perseverance. Toughen up. This is what Olympians do”, I could not disagree more. If she had pushed through, there is a good chance we would’ve been reading headlines more along the lines of Simone Biles sustained a serious, life threatening injury. By publicly stepping away from competing, Simone is normalizing what actual self-care looks like. A teacher that I learn a lot from is Adam Grant. He wrote this week, “We need to have the same compassion for emotional pain as physical pain.” So well said. When someone we love breaks a bone or gets into an accident, we rally around them with support. But how often do we rally around the people in our life who are suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other number of mental and emotional challenges? As a country, this has to change. As individual people, this has to change.
Brene Brown has famously said “Daring Leaders are never silent about hard things.” To me, Simone Biles advocating for and protecting her mental health is not a hard thing. It's a thing that makes perfect sense to me. But when I look at the number of people who are criticizing her for doing so, I realized that this was something I cannot be silent about. As someone who deeply cares about people, their wellbeing, and their whole person health, I am firmly in support of Simone Biles. I wish her well on her continued journey towards healing. And I cheer her on for setting an example to all the other little girls at the community rec centers learning gymnastics. May they only know that it’s okay to step back and take care of themselves. And my hope for you is that you know it is vital to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing. I’d be privileged to be a part of that journey.
I'm JoEllen and I'm so glad you're here. Thanks for visiting and let me know how I can best serve you!