I found this on Facebook, written by a friend whom I admire greatly. I am passing it along—well, she did post it on Facebook—for more of us to learn her lesson during the month of mental health awareness. I made small edits for privacy sake.
I turned 40 a couple weeks ago—thank you all for the love, it was felt! I changed several things in my life to prepare for 40. I hit the gym harder. I started wearing sunscreen on my face. Started getting gas before the light comes on. The biggest thing I did was resign my job without a plan or work lined up. I spent months in therapy sorting through it all after I had a mental break in May of 2021. In the end, resignation was what was best for me, and after I shook off the guilt and shame, it felt good to be decisive about something that affected me so much. I was—and still am—working through the hyper-vigilance the trauma of work left.
What happened next is the best part. I helped find a fantastic replacement that I can support from a distance. He is carrying on the legacy in his own way and it is so good to see. I found a job that is really cool and rewarding in different ways. I am no longer in crisis and that feels really good. I perfected the sweet potato pie and now make them for anyone that wants one, just for fun. I am reading for fun. I am able to show up for family and friends and really be present. That feels so good. Most of all, I show up for myself in a big way.
I agreed to be the guest speaker today at work for mental health awareness month. As my host read all of my accolades and accomplishments to introduce me it felt like she was talking about someone else. Society rewarded me for the trauma I endured to do the work, so the introduction hit different. I was not proud. But, there was a guy on the call that said it was nice to see someone so accomplished speak on this issue in such a personal way. That felt good. That part felt like the real me.
The only way to fight the stigma of seeking mental health help is to talk about it—to normalize it. A big thanks to my therapist—you know what you did and I will never forget it.
I had heard the beginning of this story a while back. Now I can only wonder what wonders she will do with all her blessings in the next 40 years.
Fr. J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Public Service at DePaul University and Values Director for Depaul International, an organization that serves homeless people in seven countries.