SOFTNESS IS A STRENGTH: AN OPEN LETTER ON MENTAL HEALTH
By Marc Keiser
WRITTEN BY MARIA ISABEL
Hi. My name is María Isabel, I’m an R&B singer-songwriter who’s been making music her whole life, but only just started sharing it. I recently released my first EP, “Stuck in the Sky”, and the response has been incredible. I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love for a living, but in my short time here, I’ve grown used to feeling super underwhelmed & indifferent about things/moments in my life that should bring me joy, and I thought this moment would be no different. But the messages I’ve received since the songs went up have had an unbelievably unexpected effect on me. I have never felt less alone than I did scrolling through my DMs, and it wasn’t because all of these people had taken the time to listen my music (although I didn’t hate that), but because so many people reached out to tell me that they were feeling exactly what I had put into words for them.
I should start by saying that a year ago, I wouldn’t have shared this with anybody. It isn’t easy to admit that I’ve struggled, but I have for a long time and still do. I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for about 8 years now. I didn’t have a name for it when it started, I just knew that I was feeling & behaving differently than the people around me, and I didn’t know why. I came to the conclusion quickly that no one else was feeling what I felt because no one was talking about it, and that meant that everyone else was doing just fine. It wasn’t until a little over a year ago that I finally sat someone down and explained everything that I thought was wrong with me. It took 1 conversation to give me the courage to start talk therapy where I was finally able to identify, with someone else’s help, what I was dealing with.
It has been an uphill battle since. Living with mental illness requires endless upkeep but it’s all about figuring out what works for you (usually through a lot of trial + error). Movement has become a huge part of my mental health journey. Working out with Almost Home has brought me so much peace of mind in a matter of weeks. I really love getting to leave everything outside of the gym for a few hours a day.
I’m still learning so much about what hurts and what helps, but one thing I know for sure is that no good comes out of suffering in secret. The weight of the world came off of me the first time I realized that someone else felt what I was feeling. So, whatever it is you’re carrying, please find a place to put it down. Find someone. Hold onto anybody that keeps you anchored to this earth.
We as a society need to work so much harder to destigmatize mental illness. There’s a very high chance that, if not you, somebody you know & love is struggling with their mental health. So why aren’t we talking about it? If you’re going through it, I want you to know that all of your feelings are valid. There is nothing wrong with you. You belong here. You deserve to feel joy as much as anyone else does. I am sending you all of my love and I hope this helps even if only to communicate to you that you have never been and will never be alone.