Mental Health Monday – Mental Health Awareness

Standard

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re kicking it off with the first of a series of Mental Health Mondays.

Mental Health isn’t simply an awareness tool for those with mental illness or issues, but for all of us. We all have mental health, and we consistently ignore it, and as we’ve found during this last pandemic year, ignoring our mental health isn’t good for our…mental health. Or our physical health for that matter.

Right before I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety I was having knee problems. I went once a week (it should have been three times a week, but I couldn’t afford that even with “good” insurance) for physical therapy, and it did help a little bit, but it was really the action of going to the physical therapy building and having the schedule more than doing the exercises. I’m sure the exercises helped my knee, but the schedule of the appointment helped just as much. Once I began talk therapy, medication, and discovering my own self-help tools, my knee pain virtually disappeared.

I’m not suggesting that taking care of your mental health is all on your shoulders. I could not have come out on the other side without medication and therapy. Depression and anxiety (and a host of other mental health issues that I’m not qualified to speak on) are almost all chemical imbalance, and oftentimes, regardless of what some may insist, the only option is medication. And that’s okay. I take medicine for my diabetes and my high blood pressure. No one would suggest not taking it and just “relaxing” and/or “cheering up.” That’s not how recovery works.

And everything that’s working for me now may not work in the future. Being self-aware is important to know when to ask for changes, whether it’s for more therapy in the week or month or a change in medication. Schedule changes, eating habits, stress – all of these can contribute to changes in your mental health and may necessitate changes in your treatment.

For this first week of Mental Health Awareness Month, I would suggest sitting down with yourself in a quiet space and reflecting on what your feelings lately are. Take the time to sit with it and see if things are better or worse than they were a few weeks or months ago. It’s also important to accept that there may be temporary changes that will go away, especially if those changes developed during and because of the pandemic and the lockdowns. In your isolation, what worked for you? If you continued working, how did that effect you? Do you have needs that need addressing?

A really useful graphic appears below (with attribution). Read through it and ask yourself the questions that apply. Think about the suggestions, and seek out a professional for help. I am not a professional; I can only share what I’ve done, and what has worked and not worked for me. It may not seem it but our mental health is a community effort. As I heard on a retreat last week: Take what you need; leave the rest.

Continue reading

Mental Health Monday – May 6th

Standard

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’re kicking off Mental Health Monday with a few reminders and links:

Mental health affects EVERYONE. Mental Health is often confused with Mental Illness, and both are afflicted with social stigmas where we don’t acknowledge our issues, we don’t speak about them, and we ignore our friends and family who have them, regardless of the degree.

As a whole, we need to be more open and in that way, we encourage others around us that they can come to us, and they will receive support.
To start out this awareness month, check out my Mental Health Monday tag, an ongoing series of mental health stories and resources. I also have a Crisis Intervention Resource page that offers hotlines and some websites. I have already added the new Trans LifeLine to it.

Other resources to check out include:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
BetteruBetterUs on Instagram (helping people of color connect with therapists)
Project Ur Ok, on Instagram
The Carter Center: Mental Health
The Trevor Project
School of Awake (for young girls)

Five of My Personal Self-Care Practices

1. Take a Mental Health Day. This is especially helpful when you work full-time. Sometimes with all of the obligations and expectations, a day off is needed. I also allow my kids to do this if needed.

2. Tea. It is no lie that tea cures everything. And if it doesn’t cure it, it certainly helps put things in perspective. The time it takes to brew a cup of tea and drink it is often enough time to allow yourself to take a breathe, and it can be done anywhere – home, work, coffee shop on the corner.

3. Do something mundane. There are times when I get low and can’t focus even on relaxing, so I will put on a rerun of Supernatural and let that be my white noise. I’ve seen all of the episodes so I don’t need to pay strict attention to the plot, and I find comfort in the familiar voices.

4. Music. My go-to’s are the Hamilton soundtrack, Sign No More from Mumford & Sons, England Take My Bones from Frank Turner, and Adele plus the Supernatural soundtrack that I’ve put together.

5. Prayer. I know this isn’t for everyone, but if I can sit down and pray or read a spiritual book it does tend to re-center me so I can continue with my day.

Share 1 or 2 of yours in the comments!