A Mental Health Check-In For Mental Health Awareness Week
The significant increase in depression and anxiety since March of 2020 is well documented. From lock downs to sick family and friends, long haul covid and a changing way of life, there is ample explanation for this rise. I'm cautious to presume that if the virus' effect on the country declines in coming months, due to booster vaccines and more accessible therapies, that things will go back to 'normal' for people with a new found sense of emotional upheaval. The extreme circumstances that brought these conditions to the surface was merely an accelerant to a fire that was already burning.
While people might in the back of their heads recognize that there is a fire of emotions burning, in an effort to push through day after day, they allow that fire to spread. The longer the fire goes untended, the more it spreads. Some people will be able to get through life without that fire 'hitting home'. But many will face the consequences of not dealing with their strong emotions in one way or another. It might come in the form of mis-understandings with family and friends, not pursuing activities that invoke their passionate spirits, growing cynical or any other number of scenarios.
Once a person stares at the fire and is willing to acknowledge how dangerous it is to their survival, it's difficult for them to look away again. For this reason, people owe it to themselves to try everything in their power to work through challenging mental health conditions.
Therapy is vital source of health and recovery for people with mental health conditions because a therapist is a one on one professional who can spend in ordinate time with you to help you to exhaust feelings of frustration, inadequacy and more. Unfortunately, many people cannot afford therapy. Health plans have gotten better about covering therapy, but even with reasonable co-pays, the price is still too high for many. While it may take some digging, people should look online to find teaching psychology schools near them. Many times, these schools will offer free or low cost therapy to enable their students to train. Local mental health centers may also be able to guide you to the best options for affordable therapy.
Support groups can play a key role in the recovery process. What a support group enables that is difficult to replicate is the release of feeling that all of these strong feelings you feel, the set of circumstances that you face, are yours alone. They belong to the world. Go to a support group for divorce and you'll sit with people of all ages, with and without kids, rich, poor and in between who have struggled with divorce in different ways. Go to a support group for adult survivors of childhood abuse and you'll hear stories with some of the same colors as yours and some very different details. The support group can be a release of pent up emotions of feeling that no one could understand you. We carry these heavy bricks around thinking that that's what we deserve, but the truth is that we deserve to let go of what weighs us down in life and move with ease and comfort through our miracle of life.
Many people read as part of their MH journey. For free, we're still lucky enough to be able to go into libraries and browse and borrow books without paying. Grab a bunch of books that look interesting at first blush and take a few minutes to read through each one and see which you can most identify with at that moment.
Something else to keep in mind is that your vitamin levels being in a normal range can play a role in your mental health. I'm not talking about taking thousands of mg's of B12 because an article online said it helps cognition. I'm talking about going to a doctor and asking to get tested for basic levels of vitamins d and b12, iron and more. If you are deficient in any of these, taking vitamins to bring you back up to a healthy level could play a role in your improved MH.
Don't underestimate the importance of sleep. No matter how much caffeine or other stimuli you take during the day, getting enough good sleep is a baseline for consistently feeling good.
Once these lines of natural treatment have been exhausted, and if there is still a significant feeling of negative emotions, a visit to the psychiatrist could be in order. There are many treatments on the market today that work with varying degrees of success for each individual person. So, it is worth keeping in mind that if the first drug doesn't work, it doesn't mean they all won't work.
Remember that when it comes to mental health, there are many legitimate options to try to bring relief. It can be difficult to do anything new, particularly as it relates to your health. But you may only get one life and one chance to enjoy what is in the world. You are worth seeking every option to improve your mental health!