Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to an end. And unless you've been living under a rock completely isolated from the rest of society, we're currently living history. It's okay to feel overwhelmed.
Here's what's it like struggling with mental health: You feel like you're drowning. Like suddenly you dived off a diving board into this end with no bottom. Your lungs are breathing but you can't catch up because something feels lodged in your throat. You're gasping for a release.
This is how it feels to be stuck in quarantine with nothing but your own mind running through underlying issues you've tucked away for so long it feels like a treadmill, things are running, but you're stuck in place. This is how it feels when it feels like the world is turning itself inside out and you feel hopeless. It's suffocating and it comes in the most silent moments. This is more than just feeling sad for a couple of days and bingeing Ben & Jerry's because your crush won't text you back, you want time to stop.
It's okay to feel this way. Your feelings are VALID. There's nothing wrong with you.
When everything on the news seems to be another hopeless case, it's hard not to feel like you're going under. The best method is to talk to someone, a family member, or a close friend. If this feeling is persistent and affects your day to day living, you should tell someone. And if you think you're a burden, then stop that right now. You'd be surprised how many people feel the same way. So here are steps for the moment you feel stuck.
Its cliche because it works. Do me a favor right now: relax your shoulders and unclench your jaw. Slow down your breathing and calm your thoughts. This is okay. You are okay. Breathe in for four seconds. Hold for another four. Breathe out for four seconds. Hold it again for another four. This is called square breathing. Repeat until your mind clears itself out. When your mind feels like its flooding, it's hard to stay present. So focus on the drum of your heartbeat, the motion of your lungs, the sound of complete silence. You are here.
Now that you're relatively calm, slowly go through your thoughts one by one. Sometimes all it takes is expressing yourself through a medium. Painting, knitting, a walk through a park. Journaling is a way to write down what your feeling without being overwhelmed. Mindful meditation is a form of meditation that slows down your mind and relaxes you mentally and physically. Think about the situation objectively, ask yourself questions about the situation, why are you responding this way? What does this mean? What's the best way of feeling better?
It's quarantine. School's out. For some of us, it's been days since we communicated with friends. Weeks since you've gotten a hug. Humans can only go so long with being starved of human contact. So, send a quick text to a prior classmate, call up your significant other, FaceTime your mom. You'll soon realize that you're not alone. People who can't be with you at your weak moments shouldn't be with you period. Support is always at every corner.
Stop thinking about things all together. Hit pause and do something else. Binge-watch a movie on Netflix. Plant some vegetables. Read a really good book. If it's an issue you're dealing with, you'll be able to come back to it with a clear mind.
Sometimes thoughts can be persistent. They can turn dark and interfere with your life. It happens. I can't emphasis enough how important it is to reach out when you can't deal with it yourself. There are crisis hotlines, online therapy, and support groups that can help you with what you're feeling. Nothing is too big or too small when it comes to rescuing yourself, physically or mentally. Don't wait until it's too late.
If you need someone to talk to or are worried about someone else's mental health please text HOME to 741741, a 24/7 Crisis Hotline to connect with someone willing to deal to lend an ear and provide emotional support.
You are loved. You are cherished. You are a soldier, keeping fighting.