From seasonal depression to moderate to severe anxiety disorders, living life with mental illness is not always an easy task. Here are some thoughts about it.
Sometimes the concept of “hot girl summer” is not always a sufficient antidote for thawing your cold winter mind – sun, sweat and warm summer evenings notwithstanding. Whether you’re someone who struggles with mental health on the daily, a semi consistent basis or just recreationally every now and again, it’s worth talking about the pressures of dealing with the wide range of human emotions in an open and non-judgmental way.
First of all, for those who have never struggled with mental illness, here are some things in life you may experience sometimes; from someone who has been there before. Those who have experienced these occurrences will hopefully resonate and know that it’s okay to feel this way.
Beyond the fact that there are nutrients in food that allow your body chemistry to be more conducive to hormonal balance and stable mood, food and the act of eating things is much more than just bodily nutrition. It has to do with mind-body balance, personal lifestyle preferences as well as social norms and traditions which can be triggering for many people. Every person’s relationship with food is totally unique, and nobody should be shamed for the way that they consume food. The goal is to find your own happy and healthy relationship that works for you and makes you feel like your best self, which for many can be a life-long journey. Chin up, you!
Despite any type of eating disorders, anxiety, dietary restrictions FFS or just any form of “weirdness” regarding the world of meals beyond the sustenance itself, food is an essential form of self-care. So you can imagine how painful it is when this crucial relationship suffers in some way. For those who do, know that it is A-OK and you are always encouraged to speak up if you’re finding it difficult to navigate this subsistence of life.
Oftentimes, being around family is harder than being around people who you only sort of know.
If you’re someone who is “dealing with a lot” on an inward level, and if you’re not born into families or surrounded by people that are comfortable voicing these things, it can be difficult to navigate shifts in outward behavior or mood that may organically happen as a result. The manifestation of depression, anxiety or fears bottled up may lead to feelings of unease or all around discontentment being around other people, no matter how close they may be. In fact, you may find it more difficult to spend long periods of time around people who know you well, from the past; as you naturally grow and change inwardly, your image of yourself will inevitably begin to diverge from the outdated “you” that others may still expect to meet every day.
Despite any inevitable (innately human) feelings of discord, change takes time and taking care of yourself – especially when you’re feeling most vulnerable – is the most important thing. Furthermore, speaking up and having candid discussions with those you love is not always easy, especially if it’s not a particularly happy-clappy conversation to be had. This can lead to painful misunderstandings for those dealing with anything from personal development to depression, intimacy issues, anxiety to any unique brand of inner or outer turmoil. If you bring up these conversations, try your best to be as patient as humanly possible; however difficult, listening encourages you to be listened to as well. Mazel tov if you do speak up and no worries if you just don’t feel like it.
Yes, a person who is well-dressed, fully employed, generally punctual and perfectly pleasant outwardly can be struggling with difficulties and demons that are not seen or heard outwardly. It can take a lot of work, though, so if someone seems low on energy or out-of-sorts, know that it need not be attributed to any version of weakness or physical illness (although, it can also manifest this way). Mental health in a holistic sense is nuanced and does not necessarily mean everyone will “look the part”, by any standard. When in doubt, compassion is key!
Speaking up can be hard to do…
In some cases, the social stigma when it comes to mental illness is enough to keep people suffering quiet. Furthermore, oftentimes when it becomes apparent that someone has been struggling, there comes the unanimous knee-jerk reaction: “why didn’t you say something sooner?”, as if it is the person’s fault for not communicating their inner battles before any kind of surface-level manifestations or “problems”. First of all, it is always best to be vocal about any kind of turmoil you may be feeling and it is a very good thing to speak up or ask for help. However, let it be known that whatever a given person may be dealing with is often a burden carried in silence because to that person, nothing would be worse than someone knowing their fears, shortcomings or perceived “weaknesses” in the eyes of others. Big ups to those who have the courage to speak their truth and accept themselves, as is, without judgement, regardless of whether or not people understand it all the way through. Remember if you do not have a support system, you can always check your resources for immediate help and support worldwide at any time at this link.
Coming home after being in a social setting can often result in a depressive shame spiral.
If you’re not the social-est of butterflies, or you simply do not connect to who you are when you’re around other people, the feeling of entering a safe space with all of your own things again can feel both relieving and disheartening, in an oddly jarring way. Not everyone has the luxury of feeling completely comfortable in their skin 100% of the time or feeling comfortable around other people’s skins, for that matter. This can either lead to manufacturing any variety of walls or facades to hide behind in the presence of others or else avoiding contact with fellow humans altogether. Depending on the severity, social anxiety can truly be debilitating and everyone case is unique.
Regarding self-consciousness and self-esteem, or anything related, know that the natural state of being a person is imperfection. It’s always best to surrender comparisons with others or any form of judgement at that (easier said than done, fair enough) and always remember that being who you are is always the most valuable way to be. Nobody should ever ask you to live up to some spoken or unspoken standard of being – theirs, society’s or even a past or outdated version of yourself. Hold your own space and stay aware of your boundaries. Make sure your physical and emotional needs are met and know that you are allowed to be your best self in every situation.