How I've Dealt with Anxiety/Depression Part II
The month of May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, and I thought what better time than to share a bit about my own journey and ways I take care of myself when it comes to my mental health.
Please note I am not a mental health professional/medical professional and I am not promoting a particular method of treatment, rather I'm sharing my thoughts and experiences.
Mental health and mental illness are areas of health that carry unnecessary stigma around them. We don't shame people suffering from illnesses like cancer or multiple sclerosis, so why do we shame people suffering from mental illness and mental health issues?
Agenda from Ban.do (New 2017-2018 agendas are now available!)
Journaling as a means of self-care is something that I have done on and off since I was in elementary school. I have always found one of the best ways to express myself is through my writing. I am able to articulate exactly what I'm feeling, and it helps me examine why I am feeling a certain way and work through the issue. It's also quite an experience, (both cringe-worthy and hilarious), to read old journal entries. It's a great way to see how far I've come as a person, but also see the situations and circumstances that at the time felt BIG and overwhelming.
Five years ago I moved to Virginia mostly for a relationship I was in at the time. It was the first time I was away from home and I was also enrolled in a pretty intense course. I had a therapist I would talk to, (more on that in Part III), but for my day-to-day mental health care, I found journaling to be a very cathartic experience. The relationship was abusive and toxic, and everyone around me was telling me that it was a bad situation, but I couldn't see it. We were constantly breaking up and getting back together, and oftentimes in those kind of relationships, it's hard to talk to another person about how you're feeling, because everyone has already told you that you shouldn't be in the relationship. I felt incredibly lost, hopeless and alone.
Looking back now on that time through my writing, I am able to appreciate how strong of a person I am, (then and now), and also how much I've grown and have worked through a lot of the nonsense and insecurities, that made me feel that I deserved to be in such a bad situation. One of the best ways to work through pain and trauma is to tell your story, and I believe that for a lot of people who don't have access to therapy, or even someone to confide in, just being able to write it down, as if you are sharing everything with a friend, can be incredibly helpful.
I've tried many different methods of journaling, and one that I have been enjoying and finding really helpful recently, when I don't have time to devote to an hour of writing, is bullet journaling (pictured above). It's a good way to track my daily mental/emotional state, tasks, physical activity, and noteworthy events and feelings.
One crippling aspect of my anxiety, is that when I am feeling anxious, I tend not to want to do anything. It's like my mind and body shut down and I am almost frozen. This tends to happen when there are a lot of different tasks to get done, which feel too overwhelming, and this is something that has come up recently with planning a wedding. I have found that keeping a day planner helps my anxiety. Mapping out different appointments, things that need to be done or are due, and tasks that I want to accomplish, keeps my anxiety in check and helps me to not feel so overwhelmed.