Mental health is sticky. Most likely if you’re reading this, you are one out of the roughly 6.5% (estimating 450 billion people) that are suffering from some sort of mental health disorder. Maybe you’re not, and someone you know is struggling and you want to help without asking too many questions. Maybe I’m assuming too much, and you’re just here for whatever crap I decide to throw on to this website. (Reaching)
Mental health is nothing less than a roller coaster that you’ve never been on. Its twists and turns are unpredictable, and everyone experiences it differently. It’s scary, and the seat is wildly uncomfortable, and we don’t know when or where this thing is going to end. Also, it rains at very inconveniencing times. In this post, I’m going to talk about what has personally worked for me. No, I am not a doctor, I make lattes for a career— but I do have 20 years of experience riding beside me on my never-ending roller coaster. So, just hear me out.
I'm hoping to make a little mini-series on mental health, and really talk about each classification of mental health disorders, to try and raise awareness in my own community.
The first classification that we're going to talk about is;
A mood disorder is “a psychological disorder characterized by the elevation or lowering of a person's mood, such as depression or bipolar disorder.”
In a mood disorder “category”, we talk more about depression and (but not limited to) bipolar disorder. This is because these are the more discussed disorders that interfere with your moods on an everyday basis.
When you have a mood disorder, you may experience prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells. These sometimes feel confusing, or upsetting. When these sorts of things happen to me, I try to just allow myself to feel my emotions. Sometimes this is hard, but over time I've gotten a lot better at it, and I figured I would try to help someone else if I could.
I've compiled a list of icky feelings we may get when we are experiencing low moods. In that list, I have also gone ahead and backed each icky feeling up with a "healthy habit" that you could perform when you are unfortunately feeling...icky
You may also feel;
F - Substantial changes in appetite and sleep patterns
HH - Try meal planning, and create a healthy routine. Eat and sleep at the same times every day. If you sleep too much, try staying occupied and set a time to sleep at night. If you sleep too little, try meditation to calm your mind before you sleep. Lower your phone brightness, and/or try to stay off all devices, at least 30min before sleeping. Try doing this for at least a week, and then challenge yourself to do more.
F - Irritability
HH - Try setting a time each morning to set your intentions for the day. Create positive affirmations in the morning, as they are proven to improve your mood throughout the day.
F - Anger
HH - Try counting to ten. I know. Anybody and their mom could have told you that, but it works. When you feel like you are about to just explode, take a second. Take ten seconds. Breathe, and think of three things you are grateful for, and you will feel slightly, if not significantly calmer.
F - Worry
HH - Do not worry about things that are not happening yet. I repeat. DO NOT worry about things that are not happening yet. You know why? Because that means that when/if that worrisome thing happens, you will have just put yourself through the same worry twice. Do you realize how exhausting that is? No wonder you're always so tired. Worry about things as they come, and not a moment before. If you ARE worried about something happening in the now, ask yourself -- "Do I have the power to change this?" If no, let it go. If yes, ask yourself -- "How do I change this?", and make an action plan.
F - Agitation and anxiety.
HH - This groups in nicely with irritability and anger well, so I won't touch on it too much, but anxiety is a very icky feeling. The heavy chest, the tight muscles, the turning stomach and sweating palms. I know anxiety all too well. What I can recommend from a whole lifetime of trial and error, is deep breathing. consistent deep breathing practices every day. Just taking a second to be with me and feel and not judge my body's reactions to life.
Other symptoms may include;
F - Pessimism
HH - Negativity will ruin any and every good thing you will ever have in your life. Let's be brutally honest and say it has already ruined many good things, days, experiences. How do we stop ruining things and throw away the negative and toxic energy? Find three positive things for each negative thing that happens. Do you hate the sound of your alarm? Hey, at least you woke up and heard your alarm this morning. Do you hate that your dog puts his butthole on your face? At least you have a dog, some of us had to wait until we turned 20....
F - Indifference
HH - Find things you are interested in, and do them constantly! (As long as they are healthy.) If you hate your job, (find another one first, and then) QUIT. There has to be at least ONE job that will motivate you to wake up each morning. And until you find it, you must discipline yourself enough to wake up anyway. The dream job won't find itself you know.
F - Loss of energy, and persistent lethargy
HH - Now, I would say you should just down a nitro cold brew and start the day, but you need to find the source of your exhaustion, and find a solution. That could mean, going to bed earlier, starting your day with a healthy breakfast, exercise before you start your day.
F - Feelings of guilt
HH - As humans, we all feel guilt (unless you are a psychopath, then you don't). It's okay to feel guilty, as long as guilt is warranted in your situation. Such as you dropped your fork on the floor at dinner and you feel guilty for asking the waitress for a new one, OR you accidentally flushed a tampon down the toilet and clogged the whole house resulting in yard work and a shitty bathroom. You need to figure out if your guilt is warranted in a situation, and ask yourself how to overcome it.
F - Worthlessness
HH - This one is hard for many people. In today's society, our expectations of each other are so high that sometimes we forget that we are simply human. Built different, on purpose. We are not cookie-cutter people, on purpose. We are meant to be different, and not be expected to follow the status quo, but to challenge it. We often feel worthless because we are stuck in comparison, with everyone else. Be an authentic version of yourself, and the people that love you will bring great light and love in your life, because they are loving you, for you.
F - Inability to concentrate
HH - Just like potty training your puppy to pee outside, give yourself rewards for concentration. If you are writing an essay that you never think you'll finish, eat a snack every third paragraph. Positive reinforcement isn't just for dogs and little kids, it actually tricks the brain into completing tasks to feel the happy feelings that the reward gives us.
F - Indecisiveness.
HH - Plan ahead. Meal planning also works for indecisiveness. If you plan ahead, you are not making your brain feel like its running on impulse, and you will feel better about your decision.
Not to say if you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, you are suffering from said mental illness, however, if your mental health is interfering with your day to day life, I suggest you talk to someone.
To speak to someone at any time, 24/7 please call;
Distress Centres of Greater Toronto
Victim Services of Peel