Ru Paul, Self Love and Taking Care of Your Mental Health
“You can’t love yourself? How in the hell are you gonna love someone body else?”
The importance of loving yourself enough to take care of your mental health.
You’re probably already familiar with the infamous quote from RuPaul: and if not – is your internet working?!
RuPaul’s Drag Race has helped bring LGBTQ+ rights into mainstream conversation. However, less recognised is the mental health aspect of the show, with RuPaul encouraging contestants to be mindful of their “inner saboteur”, to live in the “here and now” and cultivate their own self-compassion to the struggles and the impact that being queer has had on their lives. Despite the controversies Drag Race has faced over the years, at its core, this is a show about love.
It’s a message we could all do with hearing: we need to love ourselves more. But are we really doing enough (or anything!) when it comes to our mental health? Life can be tough at times and no one is immune to hardship; so why are we unable to recognise that, to show ourselves kindness and take proactive steps to give our mind (and hearts) the care they need?
In the UK, you only need to google “mental health statistics” to see that we are in the middle of a mental health crisis. The problem may lie in the way we are perceiving and treating mental health in the same way we do physical illness.
Now that is definitely not to say that mental health issues don’t or can’t cause severe physical side effects. However, there must be a drastic change in the narrative of what mental health is and what good mental health looks like. Unlike with most physical illnesses and disorders you would be looking to alleviate the symptoms permanently. I don’t think this works with regard to mentality.
Let’s take anxiety for instance, which is a very normal human emotion. It’s not the fact that we feel anxiety that is the problem (it’s part of our danger sensing mechanism as humans) but what is a problem is prolonged and/or disproportionate anxiety reactions to minor stresses or events.
The mental and the physical are intertwined. Many of us are aware that the mind and body are connected and it is now known that by taking care of yourself physically (i.e., exercising regularly; eating a healthy diet; and taking the time to properly rest) boosts your will power and mental wellbeing. Strangely, we don’t view the opposite to be true: that if we take care of our mental health then our physical health will improve.
Now before we begin to despair for the fate of our collective sanity there is hope - counselling. If we look at our American counterparts: counselling (or psychotherapy as it is termed there) for many is a way of life just like going to the gym. It sounds so simple but why don’t more of us do it? Again, this may be a consequence of treating our health the way we do our physical health as counselling is usually viewed as a last resort and only sought after all other avenues have been exhausted. The consequence of this is that many will only seek help in relation to their mental health when it has deteriorated so badly that even simple everyday tasks become monumental efforts. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that like going to the gym, counselling can be hard work and depending on what your goals are, a certain level of stability and resilience is necessary for you to get the most out of counselling.
A healthier point of view to take towards your mental health would be to view it as something which requires time, care, patience, skill and love. Counselling, much like your life, is not static: it is fluid and ever changing.
I propose that we view our counsellors like personal trainers for your mind. When you spend your hard-earned cash on a personal trainer you are paying for their expertise; you pay for their time while they educate and guide you to develop the body you want. Whilst counselling can be an expense as it depends on the training, experience and reputation of your counsellor, in comparison to having a personal trainer the price is very similar. In addition, counsellors will usually negotiate their rate if you are struggling to meet payments.
With all this in mind I wonder what our society would look like if we changed the narrative and took this proactive stance towards mental health? Change comes from within: do your part in the mental health revolution and love yourself enough to seek counselling. Now can I get an Amen up in here!
At LPG Counselling we want to encourage and support people to take a proactive approach to their mental health. Our counsellors will help you learn about yourself, be with you while you process which will enable your growth and allow you to heal in the times when you need to heal. Counselling is not just for the privileged, it is for everyone. We are part of the revolution to change public awareness of counselling. Won’t you join us?