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Fun fact: Anna is the first guest from Wisconsin to be on the show! It feels like home.
The Butterfly Path
The Butterfly Path is a 501(c)3 that was started after Anna’s father committed suicide. She noticed that not a lot of people knew about resources that were available for those who were struggling. They act as advocates, educate their community, provide resources, financial assistance, and suicide research in Wisconsin. They are paving the way for the mental health community— it’s changing every day.
But mental health doesn’t wait.
While this organization is one-of-a-kind to St. Croix County in Western Wisconsin, there are national organizations such as NAMI that can provide resources. 2-1-1 is also a phone number that you can call through United Way that provides assistance.
Because of the pandemic, The Butterfly Path shifted their focus from high schoolers to making their resources available to the entire community, including all ages! Even at work, Anna was able to make an impact by providing mindfulness training when onboarding to her company. Social issues, equality, the pandemic, it’s a lot for us to take in— and Anna was able to help her coworkers understand how they were feeling.
A Broken Heart Vs. A Broken Arm
When we’re physically sick, we take Tylenol. But when your mental health isn’t great, what do you take? Sure, there’s pills, but it’s trial and error. It’s hard to find that balance.
After my engagement, my boss at my corporate role told me to treat my broken heart and a broken arm in the same regard. She begged me to take the time to focus on myself and remove guilt from the equation. I was so dumbfounded by it, but she literally denied me to come into my work so that I could focus on myself.
Last year, Anna went through some mental health challenges. Her work took the shame and guilt away from her, too. Having the time off, without the stress of work and worrying about losing her job, she was able to focus on healing. We both have had our fair share of struggles, but we’ve been fortunate enough for mentors to step in when we felt guilty for needing a break.
The Olympics and Mental Health
Shifting the conversation, the Olympics are taking place. Simone Biles talked about her mental health and realizing she was at her capacity. I asked Anna what she thought that meant for young women going forward?
“Your mental health is like your physical health. If Simone broke her leg, she couldn’t perform. But if she’s struggling mentally, that’s SO catastrophic as her job. If she’s not at 100%, that can be be dangerous for her to perform at that level.”
You know yourself the best and it’s taken years and years for people to stick up for yourself. But now having leaders like Simone stepping up for themselves, this changes the narrative for young women. What a weight lifted off their shoulders. Of course, the media doesn’t always help explain what’s going on. And by now means is it our business to know what is happening, but this shows future generations that you know yourself best.
How Can We Support Someone Struggling?
How can we be the teammate, coworker, boss that supports someone who needs an advocate?
Anna explains that she learned in therapy that you have to realize that work is not always going to be a part of your life, but you have the rest of your life ahead of you. As stressful as your job and career can be, it’s not your entire life. Your happiness is more important than your job. When your life is working, it’s hard to do that— but you have to find the balance.
If you’re the support system of someone in need, just be there. It can be hard to not immediately fix someone. But people have to want to be fixed. So be a rock, an ear to listen, and be there for the person going through it.
How you feel is how you feel. Your bad day is still your bad day. Your best day could be someone’s worst— don’t judge someone’s day based on your own. It’s all about perspective. The way you cope with your days may not be the way someone else would.
There isn’t a magic pill. There isn’t a light switch you can just turn on and be like, “Okay, all better!”—Anna Olson
How Can We Protect Ourselves on Social Media?
Social media is part of our lives. We live and breathe it— it’s hard to not compare yourself to other people. When you start to feel like you’re burning out, you have to take a step back. But then you see how someone else is living and you feel disgusting by recharging while everyone else is having fun.
Anna uses her social media platforms as a journal so that others don’t feel so alone. Rather than use it as a highlight reel, she uses it to shed light on what’s important to her.
Is there a balance? You can protect yourself, but it can be a hard line to walk. When I was posting my highlight reel, I was going through a relationship that was going nowhere, trying to process my assault from college. If I wasn’t visible, people thought something was wrong. But if I showed up as myself, people would judge me. It was a constant cycle of trying to prove yourself and prove that you’re good enough.
But when I unplug and step away from connections with my friends and family. It’s a hard balance to know if you should scroll or step away.
And when it comes to worrying about what others think of you online. That’s a hard place to be. But the biggest takeaway is to remember that people aren’t even thinking about you (in the most respectful way possible!) No one is sitting at home thinking to themselves, “Oh my gosh— why did they post that?!”
If you’re only focusing on what everyone else is thinking, you’re not focusing on your own happiness. Ask yourself this: What’s going to make me happy? What’s going to make me feel better?
How Do We Make a Change?
Maybe it’s not common sense to be a nice person. But practice what you preach.
How Can People Support The Butterfly Path?
If you want to write a blog or share your own experience we are always looking for content. If you can afford to support financially— even just one therapy session can make an impact. And we’re always looking for people to help fundraise.
About Anna Johnson
Anna had a dream of making a difference in the mental health community after struggling with anxiety and depression. After her dad passed in 2017, she knew it was time to get it started. When Anna is not finding resources/referring people to help they are seeking, she is a Social Media Marketer in the Twin Cities.
Find Anna on Instagram