Take Care of Yourself
Did you know May is mental health month? Did you also know that your mental health is just as important as your physical health? For so many people, they seem to forget about mental health and our brains and instead focus more on physical health.
Don’t get me wrong, physical health is extremely important, and I personally strive to workout each day to ensure I stay in shape and healthy. However, I also make sure not to forget about my mental health. Especially during this pandemic, you may find that your mental health is taking a bit of a hit right now. It’s completely normal, we’re in uncharted territory as an entire world. In most of our lifetimes, we haven’t seen anything like this, so it makes sense that you may be feeling some different feelings that you aren’t used to. For some, anxiety and depression have been a part of their lives for years, for others, you may be feeling some symptoms of both, which let me tell you right off, does not mean you’re clinically anxious or depressed. The first rule of going to school for Psychology, which I did, is that you can have symptoms, but that doesn’t mean you have the mental health illness.
Think about it, are you normally very calm and not stressed, but feeling the stress and anxiety more lately? It’s not unusual, and it doesn’t mean you have anxiety now. It means that you’re reacting to the world around you, which has had many people lose jobs, businesses have closed, and we really don’t know when things will go back to the old normal we’re accustomed to. It’s also perfectly understanding if you’re feeling more upset than normal. We’re all in a mourning process of our old normal, whether we recognize it or not. It’s a difficult transition, and for most people, it’s not one they’ve had to go through. Some of us have had to transition before to a “new normal” due to various reasons, financial changes, health changes, whatever it may be. It’s something that takes time and you also go through the mourning process. That means you’re going to be sad, you’re going to be angry, you’re going to deny it, and finally, at some point, you’re going to adjust and get through it. It takes time, and while grief is a cycle, it’s not a cycle that goes in a normal circle of one emotion to the next. You may bounce back, you may skip steps, you may get almost through and revert back to the first one. That’s ok too.
Now, having these sudden new feelings and changes is normal, and not necessarily something to be concerned about, but if you’ve been feeling this way for a long time now or you’ve been struggling with things you weren’t quite sure were these issues and now you’re reading more and getting concerned, it’s important to reach out to your doctor. There’s a stigma around mental health issues, but there shouldn’t be. You wouldn’t question going to a doctor if you had a pain in your foot or if you noticed something weird on your skin and you shouldn’t question talking to your doctor if you’re having trouble mentally too. Some of these signs can be a lack of joy in your life with things that used to bring you joy, inability to sleep, having moments of panic (panic attacks), inability to get out of bed, etc. Those are some serious concerns, and something you should speak to your doctor about. Just like any other medical illness, no one has to know about it if you don’t want to share. It’s a personal thing, and not everyone is privy to your personal life. However, there is also nothing to be ashamed of. Our brains are full of chemicals, and just like our bodies, sometimes things aren’t quite balanced with those chemicals. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that you aren’t “normal” it means you’re human and your body sometimes does its own thing. Even just talking about these issues with a licensed professional can help you to work through them and improve your life in different ways.
I know there can be this attitude that you just need to cheer up and see the bright side of things, and there is something to be said for positive thinking. However, if you are suffering from a mental illness, then no amount of positive thinking will help. What will is talking with your doctor and finding a plan that works for you. If you’re afraid of going on meds, that’s not always the answer. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to, an ear that’s always there and won’t judge you. Friends are great, but they aren’t trained to assist and offer lifestyle changes that may help as well, only a professional can do that.
Take this time to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. If you need help, reach out for it. There are plenty of resources available, and someone is always there to listen. Most importantly, please remember, you’re not alone in any of this.