Terrible, (Thanks For Asking)

April 21, 2017

I had several hours of psychiatry lectures at school today. All very uplifting - ADHD, mood disorders, schizophrenia, suicide. You know, all the things we all love talking about as a society.

I left school thinking about one of my favorite podcasts that I discovered this year. It's called Terrible, (Thanks For Asking) and it is hosted by Nora McInerny. She brings people on the show to talk about awful, terrible, crazy life situations that make people uncomfortable to talk about... but yet, so many of us go through. 


Every time I tell someone about this podcast, they immediately look at me like my whole world is crumbling. "You listen to what?!" I get it. It's weird to admit that I enjoy listening to a podcast about terrible things people experience. But I enjoy it because it's real. It's genuine. And it's so incredible human. 

My life experiences, along with studying psychiatry, have made me realize that we tend to tip-toe around things that make us uncomfortable. Death makes people squeamish. Eating disorders cause people to whisper and change subjects. Depression and bipolar disorders are stigmatized and looked down upon. 

Can you imagine how uncomfortable it would make someone if you responded to their "how are you" with a "Terrible, thanks for asking... followed by whatever horrible, dark feelings you actually had!?".  No one actually wants to know. So we cover it all up with a "I'm good, how are you!?"

But here's what I believe. 

Some people don't want to know the truth. Some people really don't want to deal with the dark, twisty turns in life. And that's ok, I forgive them. 

But there are many of us who DO what to know the truth. We are interested in how other people are doing. We genuinely care. But what we lack is the ability to know how to respond to what they say. There's a fear of not knowing what to do with the information. 

My challenge to you is this: just listen. Listen to your friends, family members, and colleagues. Just sit still and listen. Embrace the silence. Realize that your words probably can't fix it anyway. Be a human and be there. 

If life hasn't slapped you in the face yet, it will. And if it has already, chances are it will again. Life is hard, guys. We need to stop pretending it isn't. There are incredibly beautiful moments and chapters in life, don't get me wrong. But I think it's wild that as a society, we prefer to neglect and ignore the hard parts. 

I think we need to start talking about the hard parts. We need to normalize problems people encounter. If someone is really not doing well, you're giving them a huge gift by just listening. 

Mental health issues exist all around us. Tough life stuff happens to all of us.
Isolating people and the issues they face certainly can't be the answer. 
Let's re-write our response to some of the ugly situations in life.

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