It has been quite some time and might I start off by saying that I wish I did not start a lot of my blogs with that. But, it’s true; my busy life keeps getting in the way of my writing. It’s one of those thoughts where I feel like I owe it to people to explain why I haven’t been doing something but in reality I am just placing expectations on myself. Anyways, what a challenging yet rewarding past year I have had, and what joy I have to be done with it and make more time for writing. I am trying to get myself back on track when it comes to writing regularly but anyone who knows me, knows I often get distracted and put my focus onto other things.
I’ve been having a hard time figuring out what I felt was being put on my heart to write about. Sounds so cliché, I know, but in having this personal blog I told myself I would write about what my present self is experiencing and needs to hear. Usually, I keep in my journal a list of potential topics and dates I hope to have writings published, but for some reason I did not feel called to write about anything that I had. I created that list of ideas in moments of super high-highs and really low-lows and knew that in creating this post I wanted to demonstrate the present.
This morning I woke up to several National Mental Health Day posts. I skipped through some, and others I took the time to read knowing that most of the posts reiterated the same concept. I came across a post on a friend’s Instagram story that spoke about self-resilience in terms of mental health. Resilience, according to the internet is “the ability to recover and process difficulties from emotion and mental challenges.” I have never thought of myself as resilient but anyone who has gone through even the slightest struggle is an example of someone who is resilient. I have learned a lot this year, something being how my relationships have shaped my mental and emotional resilience. I am lucky enough to live with people who push me past my emotional boundaries, allowing me to interpret my feelings further and realize that the quality of my relationships influences how I have begun to handle situations.
I have struggled with mental health for the majority of my teenage years, and sometime before. In elementary school, I attended counseling because I struggled to manage the negative and scary thoughts I was having at such a young age. As an elementary student, telling my peers I went to counseling was never something that I would do because I believed it showed weakness. However, mental health is becoming something that is talked about more and more. It is not easy to share and be vulnerable about mental health-related struggles but I have found it important to have people around you who understand your moments of struggle. A few weeks ago, I opened up to a good friend of mine about the anxiousness I experience when being in a specific setting or around people. Because I was able to open up, she is now aware of how to support me in anxiety-prone situations. Opening up to people is hard, but you feel the mental weight being lifted off when you realize your support system just got bigger.
In relationships, I find it important to invest in the interests of others while also figuring out what they need from you and what you need from them. Establishing this type of connection might have the potential to help you gain a better understanding of your peers. Whether it is a devastating worldly matter, family and friend challenges, or personal struggles, mastering emotional resilience in the world we live in is HARD. Over the summer I wrote a list of ways to practice resilience, a lot of which I learned on my own or from mentors of mine. I know some might work for others and some not so read and take with you what you wish -
1. Face your fears: Avoiding scary or anxious situations will only lead you to feel worse. Think of it this way, “I am anxious, but I can learn from this feeling.”
2. Have a solid support system: A support system is a two-way street. Therefore, in an effective relationship, the solution isn’t just receiving help from others - you also need to give it.
3. Find meaning in what you are doing: Don’t just do something because you have to, do it because you feel it is your calling and purpose. (A hard thing to do!)
4. Know your personal definition of what's right and wrong: This is different for everyone, but stick to what you know is good when balancing frustrating situations.
5. Practice optimism: See the world as it truly is and by that believe in your ability to look at things in a different light and change your mindset while also not forgetting the big picture.
6. Avoid negative outlets: It is hard for young adults to realize that sometimes we turn to alcohol to mask our anxiety and nervousness. It is important to acknowledge when you might be turning to the wrong things. Think to yourself - "Am I doing this because I feel like it will calm my anxiety?"
7. Be as proactive as you can: After recognizing your emotions, set yourself up for how you can problem solve and manage your feelings before it gets too overwhelming.
8. Create realistic goals: Write down a goal you have for the week even if it is a small accomplishment. Focusing on something short-term will allow you to move forward and feel more confident about handling hard situations in the future.
9. Think of your perspective: "How I think plays a part in how I feel." Try to identify areas where you tend to irrationally think and over-analyze the little things. Remember that the life you are experiencing now is not an indication of your future.
10. Reach out to your circle: Realize that spending time with people who lift you up and understand you will help you become a better person.
It’s easy for people to think about mental health as something you just push through because a lot of times the world expects us to make it look that way. It is so important that people don’t just see mental health as a 1-week depressive episode, but instead acknowledge it as one's psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Just like anyone, emotions tend to be like a roller coaster which is NORMAL. You are resilient when you choose to take a situation and work it out for YOURSELF. I wish I could say this a hundred times over, but having good days does not invalidate your bad ones when you start to blame yourself; instead, remember that you are resilient because you overcame those bad days. The stigma around mental health leads people to believe they live in a world in which they are not heard. Practicing things like optimism gives you the ability to take on difficulties that you may not have been able to before and experience what it feels like to be heard because you are speaking from a different perspective, while also making your peers feel the same.
I don’t just write this to tell you about my personal experience with mental health, but to acknowledge the resilience in the people around me who share the same struggles. I will always admire my close friends and peers for the ways in which they persevere in times of hardships and I am grateful to be in an environment where I can learn from them. I wish that people would see that mental health is not a weakness and never will be. I fall victim to this feeling way too often and I use my writings to show vulnerability in that I do not have everything figured out and never will !!! I am learning to find peace in areas of my life that I know I can’t control and learn that the uncertainty you feel about your life does not mean you are weak. My wish for you is that when you catch yourself in those anxious moments, remember that you are someone's sibling, child, student, friend, and peer and you carry a lot on your back to fulfill these roles. You wouldn't be all those things if it wasn’t for the frustration and anxiety that comes along with it. Be easy on yourself.
Until next time… Keep redecorating… on the inside and out… Nancy Anne