For as long as I can remember, mental health was a term that always conjured up certain responses from people. It was not uncommon to hear the word ‘stigma’ when talking about it. The thing is―nearly everyone has mental health challenges at some point in life. Each situation is different of course, but none of us are immune to life’s stressors on our mental well-being.
Simone Biles has been a focal point for quite a while now. Her personal story of overcoming so many personal trials to rise to such a level that she earned the title “GOAT” is nothing short of impressive. In our country at least, she is a household name.
It’s for this reason that most of us just assumed she would master the Olympics as she has so many other things. That’s why, when she stepped away from the competition due to the stress and pressure she felt, the reaction was divided. Some understood and applauded her decision to put her well-being first, others felt disappointed, and some were at a loss of words based on a lack of understanding of her situation.
The truth is, we can all sit back and judge Simone Biles―we can, but we shouldn’t. It is easy for each of us to judge each other based on our own internal filters of how we see the world. It is easy to assume we know her and to share what we would have done if her situation was our own. Ultimately, only she knows what is best for her, naturally. (*We found out a week or so after her announcement that her Aunt had died during the games, making her time at the Olympics even more stressful.)
What Simone Biles did by deciding to take care of herself at a pivotal point in her life’s journey (while the whole world literally watched) was uplift an army of people across the globe who likewise face mental health challenges. Talk about impact!
Each time mental health becomes a part of mainstream conversation, the ‘stigma’ and taboo nature of the topic dissipates a little more―and that is a very good thing! Further, when celebrities like Simone Biles, Michelle Obama, Michael Phelps, Robin Williams, and other high-profile individuals share personal struggles about their mental health challenges, they make it easier for those who are facing similar issues to feel emboldened, loved, understood, and respected. Simone and others help make the conversation about mental health more mainstream and less mysterious. As a result, it paves the way for others to share their stories/challenges. Ultimately it empowers individuals who may feel powerless due to their mental health issues.
Life is a series of ups and downs―I liken it to a roller coaster ride. Sometimes we are better at coping with a situation than at others. People in recovery are in touch with their struggles and are facing them head-on. What Simone did was further the dialogue about the importance of taking care of ourselves, both mentally and otherwise, to enjoy a full and balanced life. It will encourage those who need assistance to be more open to seeking it out. What she did took more courage than any of us can imagine and we at RPSV wish her all the best as she takes whatever time necessary to focus on herself. We also applaud her for helping to move the needle forward for those with mental health issues by reigniting the conversation!
If you need help putting your wellness first, you are not alone. Many face this challenge as life’s stressors pull us in a variety of directions. I always think of the scenario of the flight attendant demonstrating how to put on an oxygen mask as he/she reminds us to put ours on first before assisting others. Put you and your wellness first! If you need help, just reach out. RPSV is here for you. Our programs and services have helped make recovery possible for nearly 100,000 people over the past ten years. We are honored to have done so and we can help you too!
rpsva.org. (800) 374-4198