Most of you know my story – from having it all to crashing into an avalanche of depression to reinventing myself. Through all this journey, the pivotal key was Bearapy and the collection of bears. They taught me how to play again. They created a safe space for me to project my fears onto them, to analyze myself, and to face myself. It was where creativity lay, between reality and illusion.
Through research, studying, experimenting, the concept of Bearapy to help others was borne – to inspire others to pay attention to their mental health. For the past 10 days since WHO’s World Health Day on 7 April, with the theme of “Depression: Let’s Talk”, the Bearapy social media campaign encouraged us to talk about emotions through a series of bear pictures. The aim was not how we answered, but WHY we had such free associations and thoughts about the bears’ emotions.
The key is to allow us to express ourselves with courage through a safe medium. This is the last bear to close the campaign today:
How is this bear feeling? Is he in trepidation, worried, serene, mischievous, daydreaming, lonely, scared… or all of the above at the same time? What do you think?
For me, a few years ago, the life-saving reflection through playing with my bears, was that I was wearing a mask for the 30 odd years prior to the depression. The assumption that I needed to be strong, or that crying meant I would be weak or a failure meant I denied the unpleasant emotions of hurt, pain, loneliness, disappointment for fear that others would judge me or reject me.
To learn to confront one’s emotions – especially those that we are unwilling to face – is not easy. Such is the barrier to asking for help when in a depressed state of mind. We are wrought with guilt, shame, embarrassment, and humiliation. There is immense fear in asking for help, for we might be rejected, or worse ridiculed. Many suffer in silence as a result.
These were all insights into our inner theatre, and our states of mind – for those who would like to dig deeper, these unassuming bears are a window into our worries, anxieties, and fears, albeit unconscious.
Was the bear falling down, or taking his first step towards something new?
Was the bear balancing the ball and relaxed, or juggling too much on his plate?
Bearapy campaign was an experiment to help us speak our truths, even if only to ourselves. I do not know how to measure the effectiveness of this campaign, and I do not know what the feedback is, because I decided to leave it out there for all. Perhaps a way to defend against my own anxieties of “maybe this campaign is crap!”
I am grateful that so many friends helped to post and repost and took part in the comments. Some did that everyday for me. Many cracked me up, especially the stories a few created on Instagram with the pictures, fishing, naked kicks, and jam sandwiches…
I am also, disappointed, that some friends who agreed to help repost did not. Perhaps it did not show up on their feeds, or perhaps they forgot… I stare at the statistics of how many people had seen the posts, and feel inadequate in comparison to the posts that have gone viral.
Then I ask myself, why would I compare. Then I say to myself, of course I compare. We compare all the time, whether we like it or not. And the point here is not whether we should compare or not, or to tell me that I have done well blah blah blah…. But to acknowledge and be aware that I am comparing, and what that means for me…
I hope that the campaign in the last few days helped us question our own thoughts and emotions – why do we feel a certain way? What are the thoughts behind these emotions? What are our worries and uncertainties?
Talking about our emotions, having courage to face up to them, is the first step to seeking help, especially for issues like depression. Mental health issues and burnout can be prevented, if we can be honest to ourselves.
Whether this campaign was effective or helped anyone, well, at least I tried…
#Bearapy #LetsTalk #depression #Everythingsnotokay #RealEmotions