Let’s talk about Mental Health, y’all. Let’s discuss something that feels Taboo but has been coming up to the surface more since COVID came into our lives. Unfortunately due to the stigma some of us might have experienced in the past around the subject, it's left many feeling unable to share our personal struggles. Recently I did a poll on my Instagram stories asking several questions regarding this topic, for personal research while working on this post. I will be brave enough for myself and for y’all to open up about the challenges I’ve felt and currently feel while living my life so “out loud”. Having conversations about how we are feeling is something that's always been very important to me. I want everyone to feel like they have a safe place to discuss this topic, ask questions, be vulnerable and have resources to move forward. Within the last year, the focus on wellbeing has become a talking point and I am here for it! COVID-19 has caused so much chaos, but it's also made us all realize we need to slow down, enjoy the little things, and be kind. You never know what someone is going through.
When I’m not feeling it… I’m just not feeling it. I’m sure many of you can relate to those days where you are SO grateful to have a new day; and maybe you even reach for your gratitude journal and jot down your list (and maybe you don’t) , but you are drained. Emotionally, mentally, physically just… drained. We’re balanced 90% of the time…so why does that 10% hit so hard when it does? If we took a step back and asked ourselves some of the tougher questions regarding our lifestyle choices and how that can take a toll on us mentally, we would be surprised to know that most of us think there's room for improvement. A large majority of us turn to substances, excess screen time, and make excuses for not being physically active. I am definitely guilty of this behavior...especially with the drinking culture here in Dallas. But all it takes is one changed behavior to alter many, and acknowledging reality to move forward.
Sometimes on those days where you can’t explain how you feel because ‘overwhelmed’ is the only answer you can give, just shows how many different hats depression can wear. On those days, I could take a leap and say it’s because “I’m a woman, and I have hormones”, which could be true, but in a completely different context. In my poll on Instagram, 92% of women have felt or feel shammed for being overly emotional, because we are women. Why? Because social conditioning has taught us that yes we’re strong, but we should limit our emotions and voice because it’s the “right thing to do” or because it’s “too much”. Surprisingly enough though, men feel the same. Starting from a young age, some men are led to believe that showing emotion is wrong and believe that being “tough” is the answer. Let me tell you now, it's not. Emotions are something that we all feel equally, men and women just show it differently. Men like to retreat to their caves when stress arises and don’t generally like to discuss their emotions. Women on the other hand, like to talk out our problems because that’s our way of getting through them. But what if you don’t have that safe space to discuss and work through your thoughts and feelings? This lack of resource specifically is a big reason why suicide or staying silent is so dominant in our country, and in our world. Resources are there, but many are left uneducated on where they can go for help. This is what needs to change and NOW!
On a more personal note, I haven’t been feeling inspired or felt the want to dive in because I’ve been feeling so low off and on lately. That lowness makes us start to question the things in our lives that bring us joy, and question the people that bring us joy too. We feel like it’s never good enough, or that people should just go on without us because it’s probably for the best. I am pretty good at faking a smile to show the world that I’m okay and I’m sure that you are too. It all comes with the territory of learning to understand what effects depression has on you, and how to handle it. When it comes to intimate relationships, depression can make you believe things like, your partner would be better off without you, or just struggling to “connect” with them because you feel so disconnected from yourself. In my relationship specifically (just going to be open and honest with y’all) feelings like this come in big waves and effect the efficacy of the relationship itself. I tend to withdraw, have this increased need for emotional support, or I hide what I’m going through to protect him in some way. In a normal relationship (by normal I mean you see each other regularly and don’t have the Atlantic Ocean dividing you) this type of behavior showing up would bring up some hard feelings. Some may feel unsure on how to best support someone else whose mental health is declining. The person not struggling, tends to be ‘the supporter’ and they would probably feel discouraged not being able to help. I was the supporter in my previous relationship, and I can tell you firsthand how frustrating that was. I’ve been working on learning to vocalize what I need from him because I’m honestly so terrible at doing that. You can’t expect your partner to read your mind and give you what you need if you don’t tell them. It’s really simple, and it’s something that I’ve been struggling with personally for awhile. They can’t support you through the tough times if you don’t tell them what’s going on. I’m so thankful that my partner and I have learned to work together on these issues because when you stop communicating your needs, that’s when problems start to arise. Mental health isn't the first thing that is explored in most relationships, but oh my gosh....it matters, y'all!! I've learned so much over the years about myself, my needs, wants, desires, my boundaries and am still learning loads along the way. It's a journey... not a non-stop train to happiness. Even though long distance has been one of the most challenging things I've done in my life, I'm grateful for it in some ways because we have the time to dig into ourselves separately, while anticipating the day we get to come together in normalcy. I’m constantly reminding myself that it will be worth it, that everything will be amazing when we actually get to do life together, that everything we’ve ever talked about will come to fruition and our lives will be filled with adventure and love. It can be exhausting, but that’s what makes living in the present moment so crucial. Reminding ourselves when we get stuck in our feelings that right now, is all we must focus on. Tomorrow is never promised, and this past year has been proof that everything can change overnight.
I've had so many friends and family members approach me about this subject because I am so open about therapy, how important it is to educate ourselves in order to understand our emotions, and I guess give some reassurance that it's normal. Growing up around someone who is clinically depressed due to an imbalance in the brain, I've seen first hand on how crucial it can be for those who need the help, to GET the help. My instinct naturally is to recommend therapy first because I am such a proud advocate! It has truly done wonders in my life, at different stages in my life! My first encounter with counseling was when I was 11 years old because my mother had uprooted me from everything I knew and moved me to the smallest town on the planet. My second encounter was in college, learning to cope with my anxiety. My third, was in a previous relationship (couples counseling) and made me see exactly what I needed to do to retreat, and focus on myself again. And my fourth?! Now, and I am so thankful for it! This time around I am trying a more unconventional way that, since COVID, has become a great resource for people to get therapy online at a much more reasonable cost than traditional therapy! The days of paying $175 a session, are OVER!
After some research and asking advice from friends, I decided to go with BetterHelp. The platform itself is amazing, and plans start from $40 a week (billed every four weeks) which includes unlimited messaging and one live session weekly. They even have a financial aid platform for those who need something more affordable! They match you with a licensed Therapist to help you based on the questionnaire you complete during registration. You can change your therapist at any time, too. Honestly, what's there to lose?! Your first week is free once you register 😊
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs to seek help now, the SAMHSA's National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7 treatment referral and information service to individuals and families for mental health issues or substance abuse. They are live 365 days a year and provides you with treatments facilities in your area ,support groups, and community-based organizations. There are tons of resources I could list, but many are area/country specific. Please reach out if you need assistance finding organizations near you!
I hope this read has been helpful, encouraging, and has given you a little faith knowing that you are not alone in this journey! Always know that this is a safe place, and if you're comfortable sharing what helps you with your mental health, leave it in the comments below! Thanks for reading 😘