Last week was World Mental Health Day! I invite you to be part of the conversation every day, whether you struggle with mental health or not, we can all learn from the experiences of others. I’m pretty transparent about my mental health because 1) writing is therapeutic and helps me cope and 2) I think it’s so important to start the conversation. I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was a kid. I’m 23 and I’ve been in therapy on and off. I’m on meds for anxiety. I have to be careful with how certain foods effects my mental health. And it’s okay to talk about all of that. Over the past few years I’ve learned a few things about struggling with anxiety and I’m sharing in hopes that it might help others. To learn more about my struggle with mental health check out the Anxiety page.
1) Be open & start the conversation.
When I first started writing about my anxiety I was scared. I was scared because some people in my past had not been open about mental health. But when I was open and wrote about my struggles to this community, the response was overwhelmingly positive. People related to what I had to say. There were a lot of my followers who were struggling with anxiety too. By starting the conversation I was reminded (and able to remind others) that we’re not alone.
2) Don’t be afraid to tell your friends you’re struggling with your mental health.
First of all, if they’re your real friends they will be supportive (and if they’re not it’s time for new friends). One of my best friends was going through similar struggles with anxiety and I didn’t even know it for EIGHT YEARS because we never talked about it. All through middle school and high school we didn’t talk about it. Around college we finally started chatting about it over coffee one day, but I think it’s because there is such a stigma around mental health and a pressure to fit in as a high school and junior high student.
3) Find a Creative Outlet
Writing is my therapeutic creative outlet which helps me cope. I think writing helps me sort through my emotions, feelings, and sometimes get to the root cause of my anxiety. Maybe writing isn’t your thing? But I recommend finding a creative outlet that can help you express your feelings. It’s done wonders for me.
4) It’s okay that people don’t understand.
I’ve spent a lot of time being frustrated with loved ones who don’t understand mental health. And I’ve come to peace with it. There are people who don’t understand because I think to fully understand anxiety you have to experience it. That’s why I try to write about it, so that maybe people who don’t go through mental health struggles can get an inside look into my mind and understand what I’m experiencing. Consider checking out 8 Phrases You Should Not Say to Someone Struggling with Mental Health as a resource to share with those who might not understand.
5) Remembering you’re not alone.
Find a support group. Find another anxious friend. Find someone that understands the struggle. Check in on each other, hold each other accountable, and be there to remind each other they are not alone in the mental health struggle.
6) Therapy Can Change Your Life & Isn’t Something to Be Ashamed of.
I was opposed to talk therapy for quite sometime because I had the wrong counselors. After crashing and burning in college, I decided it was time to try again. Finally, on the fourth counselor I found a match. Since I started counseling with this lovely lady, I have learned a lot about myself, my triggers, and grown as a person. I have a better grasp on how to handle myself when I'm feeling anxious and how to identify why I'm feeling anxious at a certain point in time.
7) Take Time to Find the Right Therapist
Like I said above, I had three not-so-great therapists before I finally found the one that changed me life. So don’t be afraid to take the time to try out a few different therapists and feel out their techniques. It’s important to find someone you feel comfortable with. When I had the wrong therapists, I used to dread going to counseling, but now I look forward to it. Check out the 4 Things I Loved About My Therapist.
8) It’s Okay to Take Meds
Taking medicine for your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone’s mental health journey is different and if yours involves being on meds then do what you need to do to feel better. And don’t listen to anyone who tries to shame you for it.
9) Your Feelings are Valid
“Your feelings are valid” is a simple phrase that my therapist used to say to me. And as simple as it is, it really makes a difference. This phrase is a good reminder that it’s okay to be sad, mad, happy, or whatever emotions you may be feeling in the moment.
10) It’s Okay to Break Down Sometimes
There are some days when I just want to cry. And when I do I usually feel a lot better. For me, I think breaking down and acknowledging the hard feelings helps me push through difficult times.
Wherever you are in your mental health journey know that you are not alone in the struggle. You are loved and your feelings are valid. For more tips on conscious living and mental health follow The Honest Consumer on social media.