Toxic Wellness: The Student “vs” The Masters

So this tweet got posted today and it reminded me of that idiot counselor who told me to “hug my feelings,” without explaining what the fuck that meant.

At the time I was trying to get passed the block in my mind that was keeping me from remembering all the bad stuff, and what I wanted and needed was someone to help me break those walls down.

What I needed, was someone who was prepared to hold my hand while I worked my way through some seriously, evil shit.

The thing is, that in my extensive search for mental health support, I found there was no one who could help me work my way through that kind of darkness, and so I had to do it alone.

I look at all these books on “believing the pain away,” and the “power of positivity,” and I get really angry because that is only half of the story. Being positive is great, but being positive and acknowledging the struggle, are not mutually exclusive.

These last few years of my life have been the most difficult, and not because I was lonely – believe me that is not a problem. It’s not the isolation that sucks, it’s the free time. It’s the time you have to think about how bad things got, how afraid you were, and how ashamed you might be, to have to have done the things you did, to survive a world that went out of it’s way to kill you.

There are some deep seeded trauma issues that folks are dealing with, we’re talking bonfied torture by seriously evil people, and not a single one of those issues can be solved with the phrase “work out and think happy thoughts.”

Dealing with these deep kinds of trauma means:

  • Taking the time when you can, to remember, and deal with what happened by acknowledging that it happened.
  • Finding ways to remind yourself that that this was then, and you do not live there anymore.

I take what I need from my past with me everywhere I go:

  • Wisdom from the mistakes, choices, that I could control, and wisdom of the things over which I did NOT have control.
  • Strength from knowing that I survived every single bad moment that I have ever had.
  • Power from knowing that I can continue on, even though there will always be hard, tear filled days in my future.
  • Connection with the communities of people that I Choose to surround myself with.

Yes there are positive changes you can make in your life to push yourself forward, but if you are bone tired, if you are emotionally depleted to the point that the ONLY thing you know how to do is get from one day to the next, then you and I both know, that toxic wellness is not going to make you feel better.

Growing up when people would ask me “how are you?” I would answer honestly. My mom was the one who told me that I should lie, and instead of answering honestly, I should give whatever lie prevented them from asking further questions.

Very much like Marge Simpson telling Lisa to smile, even when Lisa did not feel like smiling. And so for years I did that, and the more that I would respond with “I’m fine,” the more that I had to behave as if I really were fine, when in reality all I really wanted to do was die.

There is a difference between toxic wellness and positive enforcement.

Here’s a Protip: If you are not interested in the honest answer, do not ask the question. If you do not want to know that I am struggling, if you don’t want to be there to support me, don’t fucking ask, and if you do ask how I am doing, and I tell you the truth, don’t ignore me, because someone who is better looking than I am, also needs help.

If you are going to be the kind of person who says that you want to help someone, then you have to be willing to physically be there when they are drowning. Otherwise, get out of the way and let those who both want to, and have the skills to help, be the ones to actually do the hard work.

If you tell someone “hey, I am here for you,” and not only are you TELLING them that you are a safe space, and then CHARGING for the privalege of your time and experience, then you have to do your part.

Too many times I have thought that the people that I am paying, or that are being paid for me, have absolutely zero clue, how to actually walk through the kind of darkness that I have.

Not everyone who says they have “Formal Mental Health Training,” can fathom that their training may not have prepared them for the real life experience so many of us have.

So when you are CHOOSING a mental health professional, you have a lot of things to consider before you open up to them:

  • Where did they go to school?
  • What life experience do they have that qualifies them?
  • What is their formal experience?
  • What tools do they have in their bookshelves that can help YOU heal?

If all they can offer you is medication that covers up the symptoms of the pain, instead of real actual skills that can address the reason for the pain, they may not be for you.

When you are looking for something to help make the pain go away, or at least lesson it so that you can still have some kind of a life, the LAST thing you need is someone telling you to “get over it,” without explaining OR understanding, that “getting over it,” can be one of the hardest, most terrifying parts of your journey.

Not everyone, specifically “mental health professionals,” are not prepared to help you through the darkness, purely because they cannot fathom that the kind of darkness YOU have survived, exists.

That does not make your experience any less valid, but it does add a responsibility of having to be someone that teaches others, that you DID in fact survive your truthful, and terrifying experience.

“But what if I am not ready to teach others how I survived?” It’s a process, and it’s going to take time, but as long as YOU believe that you WANT to keep going, then you absolutely can. You’ve survived everything else, haven’t you?

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall


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Author: Devon J Hall

Devon J Hall is a thirty-eight-year-old Writer and Author from Surrey, British Columbia by way of Calgary Alberta. She lives with three cats, one mother, and is addicted to coffee, cigarettes, and weed, not necessarily in that order.

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