Wearing My Heart On My Sleeve

Close up of the pink camellias flower, photo taken by Mellyssa A. Diggs​
Photo taken by Mellyssa A. Diggs

Speaking up is not my gift. This is something I try hard to do but when the time arises, I’m just unable to. I’m reluctant to speak out for fear of hurting another’s feelings – even when I know I’m right.

I have dealt with recurrent depressive episodes that went unseen and undiagnosed. I have cried so hard it physically hurt, made an attempt on my own life, and screamed at the world until my throat was burned raw. I have been labeled “too sensitive” and “dramatic” for simply allowing myself to express my emotions. People have begged me to take my heart off my sleeve and hide it away, “keep it safe,” they say. In reality, I know they are asking me to be different, to water myself down in order to make them more comfortable, to dilute my emotions and my personality so they don’t have to see themselves.

Through the raging pain, my heart has always stitched itself back together every time. Perhaps with a new scar, but with a new lesson learned too. The scar tissue built my heart up again and again, bigger and stronger. It doesn’t mean the scar isn’t there, or that I’ve forgotten about it. It doesn’t mean I am wrong to feel things so strongly or that I am burdensome. It means that I have survived.

Wearing your heart on your sleeve means you can share a truer version of yourself. It means you don’t have walls built up around you anymore. People know — they can sense it — when someone has an open heart. It has allowed me to connect with people on another level. My vulnerability has let others be vulnerable around me. My resilience has shown them that there is always a chance for a better tomorrow.

Caring for your mental health isn’t this one-time monumental feat—it’s a small, stubborn love for yourself. It’s the miracle of repetition.

May is actually Mental Health Month, and I want to help focus on what everyone (including myself) can do to protect and promote mental health by being intentional and nurturing compassion for ourselves and those we love.

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