It’s the end of May and I couldn’t let the month go out without highlighting Mental Health Awareness Month. I’m a huge advocate for Mental health and everything that falls underneath that umbrella, so this post is something I felt compelled to write. I am very familiar with mental health issues and am so proud of the leaps that society has taken in terms of creating awareness, slowly squashing the stigma attached and supporting those coming from all different walks of life who need it.
I’ll mention this at the start of the post just in case you don’t make it all the way down to the end. If you are someone who battles with depression or anxiety please know that you’re not alone. Please seek guidance, find a support system and above all else be kind to yourself and stay strong. You are valued. You’re important and your existence is worth fighting for.
I’m starting a new series on this blog called “In real time”. Concept; I sit down, Streamline my mind, write emotively and hit publish. I will, of course, proofread my pros but other than that no tweaking. I love organic content in any form and feel as though in today’s society with social media heavily curating everything, I find myself asking “Where are the real people at?”. If you vibe with me on this one please send me a tweet ~ I could talk about this all day haha!
Just over a week ago I posted my first blog post in over a year and mentioned that I’ll be sharing with you parts of my story. I have several bases to cover so I’ve figured out that the best way to do that, is to let it all slowly unravel through my content. Let’s call this 1st base; Mental health.
I’m not sure from the outside looking in, what I or my life looks like. These next statements may come as a surprise to you but this is my truth and my reality. I live (I try not to say deal or struggle too often) with anxiety and depression and have done so since I was 10 years old. Surprise! Actually, anxiety crept up on me in my teens. Chemical imbalance and past trauma have lead me here. It’s at times daunting, crippling, miserable, exhausting, stressful and comes with a ripple effect of other issues. It’s something I have to work at daily to stay afloat but I’m here and I’m surviving because I refuse to let it swallow me whole. If you have problems with mental health then I’m sure you can relate and if you don’t then this may be overwhelming but hopefully insightful. There are so many triggers, causes and types of mental health issues and illnesses ~ so many are unspoken of. In this post I won’t generalise but instead, share with you from my perspective.
Before I go any further I have to make this disclaimer:
I will never mince my words when it comes to this topic. I will always be honest and transparent (as much as I feel comfortable with) and will also tread carefully as this is a very serious topic and I don’t want to trigger anyone. I will give advice the best that I can based on my personal experiences and opinions. Please always consult a trained mental health professional before making any decision regarding treatment of yourself or others.
With that being said, today I’d like to answer the questions I commonly get asked; “What do you do when you’re feeling anxious and or down/depressed?” As I said earlier, this is a long-term thing for me so to spare you having to read my autobiography in a single post I’ve decided to focus on what has helped me in recent years.
When I feel down…
Firstly, I think everyone’s version of “feeling down” is different and I also think that one person can experience different types of lows. Depending on how I’m feeling, my intuition and better judgment I do different things. I also have what I like to call pre-prepared arsenal for times when I’m barely hanging on. More on that shortly. When it comes to being depressed I think education, self-love, and guidance is essential. Being aware of the problem in its entirety is a great place to start. Of course, medication is also an option but I’m still on the fence about that one based on my own experience.
- When I’m at my lowest point this is what I do; NOTHING. I taught myself this useful tool a very long time ago. I am no use to myself (and quite frankly can’t trust myself) in that current state and sometimes in order to survive, I have to go ghost, hibernate and wait for the storm to pass. Then after that, I look for the light ~ light drives out darkness. I think it’s important to go through the motions but even more important to not let them consume you. Finding purpose is key.
- Write an Instant love list; a list consisting of things that you love and that improve your mood almost instantly bringing you joy. You may have to dig deep to get there but trust me there’s something there. A few examples from my list ~ Practice calligraphy, have a solo dance party, self-care, write a letter to my LDR boyfriend (this helps me focus on gratitude) and the ultimate “cure” for me would be to watch BTS videos.
- The mind is very powerful and in order to create calm in the chaos, you need to distract it. Escapism is perfect for the times when you need to take a mental vacation. I like to get lost in a good book, plan a trip, plan my month ahead (this gives me a sense of hope). Also listening to new music works wonders. I used to play songs that reflected my mood but I found that listening to something unknown does something quite magical. I have my partner to thank for that tip.
- Reach out. So many people are there for you and willing to listen. But if like me you tend to be a little closed off ~ I have an app that I use I think you’ll love; Pacifica. I personally think it’s amazing. As well as meditations, mood charts, and worksheets they also have an anonymous community where you can discuss anything. It’s filled with people all over the globe supporting each other. One thing I’ve also picked up is being able to be there for myself especially in the moments of feeling lost.
When I feel anxious…
When it comes to anxiety, I had to learn my triggers. Once I learned my triggers I avoided situations I knew would make them worse. That’s called looking out for number 1 not chickening out. But in order to get better, you have to be willing to make room for change and take some calculated risks. I’m a firm believer in the quote; Let your triggers be your teachers. So in the midst of my anxiety and episodes (insomnia, panic attacks, migraines, stress and the works alike) I always try and bring it home to why exactly it is that I feel the way I do. There’s always a valid reason and always room for improvement.
- I search for intention and peace. I do my best to meditate (I swear by the Calm & Pacifica apps) and recite affirmations daily using the daily affirmations podcast. This has taught me to be present in every moment, set intentions for the day and accept that life will always throw things at me, and that I am more than capable of handling them. Having a happy place, memory or person in mind that I can go to for an instant calm helps too.
- Give up a little control & let things go. Reading “Forgive for good” by Dr. Frederic Luskin taught me that life doesn’t always go the way you plan, not everyone will act the way you want them to and that’s ok. It’s life.
- Be brave. Anxiety for me stems from fear. “It’s fine, You’ve been afraid of nothing all along,” I wrote this down on a post-it note after a major breakthrough one day. For me, it stops my self-doubt in its tracks. I know that on the other side of fear is greatness, opportunity, and abundance. Remember you’re braver than you think you actually are.
- Health & Happiness has a huge part to play in anxiety. Exercise does wonderful things for the brain, as does a balanced diet. I like to watch the levels of caffeine as too much can make me jittery. Matcha brings on a slow release of energy and I prefer that to coffee. CBD Oil helps me stay relaxed. Prescribed medication is also important and after experiencing how much better it made me feel vs the side effects I decided that for me it wasn’t the right choice to continue. This is defo one for debate so I’ll leave it there. Lastly, laughter is medicine that no one can deny improves your mood and melts away worries. Sometimes I even laugh at how unpredictable life can be. I keep good company and watching Friends always helps.
Following a combination of these steps and more in recent years has helped me tremendously and I truly hope that this has helped someone reading this. Just so you know this is a safe zone so feel free to message me anytime. Please don’t suffer in silence. I would love it if we could normalise the topic of mental health and change the way our culture deems it. This is very real for more people than you may think. #checkinonyourfriends