Welcome to Mental Health Month! For the month of May, we’re going to be focusing on all aspects of mental health. There are many resources out there for how to keep your body healthy, but it’s also important to keep your mind healthy. We’ll be spending some time exploring ways to nourish and care for your mental health.
To start things off, we would love to know: what is your relationship with mental health?
Our sales associate, Olivia, shares her thoughts below.
I used to always try to keep myself busy—partly because there were so many things I wanted to do and not enough time in the world to do them all, so I ended up piling on responsibilities and exhausting myself in the process. Another part was to distract from dealing with any sad feelings or trauma. Both of those reasons aren’t the healthiest, I realize that now. Avoiding problems and emotions only exacerbate them. Over time, I’ve learned that it’s okay to go to others for support, to acknowledge when you’re feeling down and to know when there’s too much on your plate. But it was a really hard realization to come to since, as we all know, old habits die hard. Such a simple thing as asking a friend for an ear (or a shoulder to cry on) felt like I was burdening them. And, in a culture that stigmatizes any lapse in mental health, it’s easy to see why one would hesitate to reach out and share their story.
For the longest time, I convinced myself that my problems weren’t real problems, and therefore my feelings surrounding them were invalid as well. Truth be told, this seems to be a habit I haven’t been able to shake off completely—at least, not yet. I am still a very private person, and very hesitant. And yet, if I look back on the person I was five years ago, she’s still very different than who I am right now. I may not be the one to approach a friend first most of the time, but if they were to ask me how I’m feeling, I would answer honestly. So maybe that’s a good place to start, with small steps.
To answer the question, I don’t have the clearest answer. What I do know is that isolation and avoidance only pull us into a deeper, darker tunnel, and if there’s anything I’m trying to avoid now, it’s from ever going back there. There are days when doubt and past trauma creep up in unexpected ways, when pressure and stress lead me to exhaustion or panic. And then there are days when I’m reading a good book or I’m surrounded by friends I’ve known for a long time, even friends I’m just getting to know, and I suddenly feel calm and affirmed. My relationship to mental health is messy, but I am working on it, and perhaps that’s the most any of us can do. In the chaos of it all, to cultivate a culture of vulnerability and acceptance and compassion.
Here are some thoughts from our founder, Kim.
Caring for my mind has been something that I’ve started doing only recently. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life, but was only able to own this a few years ago when I started going to therapy for the first time. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by everything and at a loss for how to cope. I shamed myself for going to therapy, thinking that I was more broken than those around me. It took me a few sessions before I could even admit that I was anxious and even longer to face my depression. I am so grateful I was able to get myself to therapy, but I wish I would have had to courage to ask for help sooner. I remember the first time I realized that it was my depression that was keeping me from doing things like laundry or cleaning my home. I felt so relieved knowing that I wasn’t “lazy” or “messy.” I used to beat myself up and wonder why I couldn’t just do simple things that everyone else could.
I’m still learning and getting to know my anxiety and depression. I have good days and bad days. I’ve started a list of things that make me feel good and ways that I can care for my mind. Sometimes my anxiety and depression come out of nowhere, and I find it’s helpful to have a resource to turn to. Some of the things on my list are: go to a SoulCycle class, reach out to a friend, buy a new book, go to the park, cozy up with my weighted blanket, take a bath, light a candle. They’re all things that make me feel good and force me to come back to the present moment. I think the most important thing that anyone can do is just listen. Sit with your thoughts and get uncomfortable if you can. Our thoughts and emotions want to be seen and heard. One thing I’ve started doing recently is asking myself throughout the day, “how do I feel about that?” It helps me stay connected to myself and how I’m doing at any given moment.
We’d love to hear what your relationship with mental health is! Feel free to share below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.