Backflip of Faith by Andrew Coenen

One of the hardest things to talk about in modern society is mental health. Like, through the screen I can feel that just by saying those words I’ve made you slightly more uncomfortable. Well buckle in, because it’s what I’m gonna talk about today! My goal here is to speak freely and honestly about my experience with mental health, skirting the line between making light of a serious issue and reinforcing the societal taboo by making a heavy, dark, unreadable blog. In order to undermine the darkness and discomfort associated with mental health struggles, I think we have to dig into the issue and talk about it, work the problem area with care and healing much like my mom does to the physical body in her Thai Massage (ho ho, look at that smooth tie in!).

Everyone has their own mental health story, and if there’s one thing every good story has, it’s a villain. Sometimes several. Whether they go by the alias of depression, anxiety, trauma, or no name at all, the villains of mental health are as unique as the heroes they oppose. I think that that diversity is actually a big part of what makes mental health so difficult to talk about. I’m not a therapist or a psychologist or a mental health professional in any way, and neither are most people. I don’t know what word to use to describe how I analyze every connotation of every sentence I say both before and after I say it, or what it’s called when I start trembling after hanging out with new friends that I want to like me. Much less what to do about it. Most of us have no friggin clue what we’re talking about.

But I mean, that’s true about a lot of things, isn’t it? I’m not a meteorologist either, but I can still talk about the weather. Lord knows everyone has something to say about COVID, even though most of us aren’t experts on it. Why is it that mental health, perhaps the only issue that can in some cases be solved just by talking about it, is so gosh darn difficult to talk about?

That was a rhetorical question, because the answer is that it shouldn’t be. Not that we all need to go out on the rooftops screaming the deepest darkest depths of our hearts to all who listen, but I honestly believe the world would benefit if everyone did wear their hearts on their sleeves a bit more. It’d make connecting them a lot easier. A heart to heart is a powerful thing, it fills you with appreciation and freedom and love, like a loosening of your own grip on your heart. It’s not about sorting and judging and labeling other people’s problems, it’s about sharing stories, and taking them at face value. Feeling understood is incredibly healing in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s something we all deserve.

The other day, I accidentally came up with a term that I’ve become really fond of: a backflip of faith. It’s like a leap of faith, but with style. For the world to change, somebody has to change it, and it’s scary to be the first one to put your heart on your sleeve. It takes vulnerability and honesty and courage. It takes a hero. But, of course, you’re already fighting your villains; you’re already a hero. So own it. Bridge those gaps, make those connections, and do it your own way, your own style. Take the backflip of faith.

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