2020: the year people will (hopefully) understand mental health

I’ve been dealing with anxiety and other illnesses my whole life, and it sucks. It sucks because you feel like a burden in addition to feeling judged 24/7. Don’t forget about overthinking, it’s terrible. I’ll admit I’m not as uptight as I used to be about mental health 6 or some years ago, and I wasn’t always a bubbly, confident force to be reckoned with. Mental health is something I learn to navigate, figure out, and educate myself about each and every day. But after 5 years of college, I’ve grown to be fed up about people not understanding mental illness and how much of an impact it can have on someone’s daily life.

After asking the following questions on Instagram, using anxiety as an example. Anxiety, in my opinion, is by far the hardest for other people to understand unless they have it. I posed the question on Instagram: “If you have anxiety, what do you do about it?” Responses varied:

  1. “Journal, listen to music, get outside & talk about it!” — B.C.
  2. “Deep breaths, then unplug from technology for at least an hour, and then exercise!” — Anonymous.

I then asked, “What would you say to people who clearly don’t ‘get it’?” And one person said:

“They don’t have to ‘get it’ but just be respectful of those with anxiety.”

That alone is a perfect response. Is anyone really going to understand anxiety? Or mental illness at large? The answer is “hopefully.” It’s amazing and astonishing how many people can be so ignorant of mental illness. For some people, it’s a hard pill to swallow, and even when they slug it down, it still wouldn’t process. For example, when I have bad days, they’re awful. It’s not like I choose to dive off the deep end. I’ve had people tell me I’m “wasting time” when I’m dealing with something internal when I could be doing something else. That’s unfortunately not how it works. For some, if not a lot of people, mental health can be crippling. It matters just as much as physical health.

What I didn’t realize was that today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. The title of this day alone made me think of the aspect of talking to others. No one should be forced to talk about their mental health. In fact, that violates medical laws. There are some people who don’t even believe in therapy, and that’s okay, too. Everyone has different ways of dealing with mental health. There is no “one way.” Think of the roots of a tree. They sprout in all different directions. Then there are the branches, which do the same. There’s a root cause for why someone may be upset, anxious, depressed — anything! Then you have your whole body which can react in several different ways. Some people can’t get out of bed. Some people choose to isolate themselves. Some people choose to go for a run. Some people immediately get on the phone to book an appointment with a therapist. In the end, it’s up to you what you decide to do.

January was a rough month for everybody, so let us hope that for the rest of 2020, people will learn to understand mental health.

 

Spooky Season = Anxiety Season?

Hello, (A)pril-listers! April here with my first post of the month of October (mainly procrastinating two essays! Yikes! I’m here, to tell the truth about October. October has always been my “worst month,” but it hasn’t been completely terrible beginning in 2017.

October is not only pumpkin spice season, but it is also known as “spooky season.” That term has been thrown around a lot since October’s beginning. But could this ostensible spooky season also be known as anxiety season?

There is no doubt that I suffer from anxiety; I’ve been very open about it. The one thing I get anxious about the most is uncertainty, and this is especially true this week as I spend my free time in between classes prepping for the LSAT. I have narrowed down to [lucky] three law schools. But that is beside the point. October seems to serve as a crucible for students, like myself. Did I mention it’s also Mental Health Day? Perfect timing, April! 👏

My mentor/professor was right: sometimes I do bite off more than I can chew, as they say. In fact, I sat in my therapist’s office, eyes barely open to let tears come streaming out of them. I was exhausted from being super busy. Needless to say, I had to cut one major activity out of my life, which was a shame because I wanted to try it and hopefully make a difference. But as it turns out, I already was making a difference in making my campus safer, one step at a time, according to another mentor of mine. I could go on about how “hustle culture” is extremely toxic and only leads to the inevitable “burning out,” which I have done on more occasions than I can count on ten fingers.

How one perceives of October is a choice, and it’s all about how you make of it. It’s not a fact that October may be a s**tty month because it’s merely a statement of opinion. When you say something often enough it becomes true. This is a manifestation procedure, as said in spiritual terms. It is your choice to make the spooky season less “spooky” and less “anxiety-provoking.” As I sat down with one of my mentors, she mentioned that you have to have self-care methods, this may include a mental health day as well as a cup of green tea with milk and sugar. It just goes to show that talking to people helps, too! I certainly don’t need a degree in psychology to know that there are methods for dealing with each emotion.

Moreover, enjoy “spooky season” while it lasts, and don’t let it become an anxiety season. If it does, use your resources and always ask for help when needed. 

Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall

In “Sex and the City: the movie” Charlotte mentions to Carrie she hasn’t been running because her anxieties about life are stopping her. I remember when I wrote Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management, I was in a terrific state both physically and mentally, ultimately providing myself with a healthy lifestyle by working out (almost) every day and getting a salad and drinking plenty of water. Come to the end of that semester, I found myself falling off the rail and into some (very) unhealthy habits. This was due to the stress of finding a job and taking a whopping SIX CLASSES two semesters in a row. This only led me down the rabbit hole of doubt. It wasn’t until the end of the Spring 2019 semester, that I learned the importance of balance (which may seem like a course on repeat.)

Balance is essential. Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand and balance each other out. Your education, relationships (with yourself and other people), work, and overall well-being need equal attention, which can prove itself to be difficult. No one is 100% “on top of their sh*t” 24/7. Nobody’s perfect. Life happens. But it’s important, like I said in Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again — the title speaks for itself! And can I just say that drinking a lot of coffee and/or alcohol does NOT help? It doesn’t. In fact, it’s actually self-medicating.

The best kind of medication without making yourself sick is 1) tea and 2) therapy. Tonight I saw a tweet by a fellow writer who was struggling with health anxiety and (for ladies, only) period stuff with accompanying physical ailments. That accurately described what I was feeling this afternoon (and prompted me to write this post.)

On the topic of therapy, I see my therapist every two weeks, just to check-in. I’ve been going to therapy since I was a freshman in high school. I’ll be honest, there were extended periods of time when I ignored therapy and didn’t make appointments. Let’s be real, a diabetic doesn’t not take their insulin because they “don’t have time.” With mental health, it’s the same concept. I remember when I used to always keep saying “I don’t have time,” and “I don’t have time to ‘make time!'” For this, this, and that, I kept using that same excuse. In fact, when people told me I needed to make time, I got pretty annoyed it hit a nerve. Now, I’m understanding the importance of it.

This brings me to my next point: you can as they say in the movie, “Tammy,” “bitch and moan” about something, or, you can do something about it. As I used to preach all the time in my Insta-stories, if you want something to happen, YOU 👏 HAVE 👏 TO 👏 MAKE 👏 IT 👏 HAPPEN.

NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing is impossible, remember that. And as to paraphrase what it says in the Bible: “The LORD helps those who help themselves.” Life is truly a blessing. So live it to the fullest and in the healthiest possible way.

This is an example of what I like to call a ROUTINE:

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No, you do not have to get up at 5:30 AM unless you’re really feeling ambitious. But a routine helps to ease the anxiousness.

In fact, by the time this goes up, I will be in bed getting my beauty sleep and getting up at a good hour for a jog.

Thank you for listening to my “Ted Talk.”  😊

xoxoxo,

April 😘💕