Meet my roommate, depressed me
It’s been eight years of dealing with depression and anxiety alone until a year and a half ago I decided to change my approach. I shared my story about my own battles with mental health. At the time I was afraid and felt a bit ashamed. I felt embarrassed because I didn’t want to be viewed as weak. I didn’t understand depression and didn’t “know” anyone dealing with it, or at least that’s what I thought. Since opening up about it I understand what and how it affects me (and others). Today is Mental Health Awareness Day, I wanted to keep the conversation open. I wanted to share what’s worked (and hasn’t worked) over the last year and a half when it comes to managing the spectrum that is mental health.
“The thing about this mental health shit is that it’s really real. Some days are good. Other days, not so good.”
The thing about this mental health shit is that it’s really real. Some days are good. Other days, not so good. It’s the random triggers that get me going and I feel I can’t control the thoughts and state I fall in. I hate it. I’ve made progress, but every day is a challenge. I’ve learned to let myself FEEL and BE when I have my moments. Then, I tell myself “take this time to allow yourself to cry, be mad, be sad. Take deep breaths. Focus on the good things you have going on and the good things coming your way. This unwanted feeling won’t last forever. You will prevail. You will get through this.” It helps. Having these talks with myself has saved me when in a “crisis” mode. Attributing those thoughts to my depression, and not healthy Me helps to create space from them. I’ve developed a deeper relationship with myself, including my depression. Rather than push it away, or fight against those states, I’ve learned to sit with it when it comes on, and then let it pass.
Shop around for a therapist you can connect with
I’ve gone through a few therapists, some good and some terrible (the last one actually “ghosted me”). My new therapist is amazing. I made a list of what I wanted when I started researching for a new therapist; I wanted her to be Black, someone who wasn’t too old or too young, presented herself and her practice professionally and genuinely. I wanted to find someone who connected with and understood the things I’ve endured personally, as well as being a Black woman in America today.
“I made a list of what I wanted when I started researching for a new therapist.”
On our first visit, I didn’t feel apprehensive at all. I was open. It doesn’t always matter what their resume says or where they went to school, as long as you connect with them in a meaningful and authentic way. I wanted to go with the flow, like how I do with most other things. It’s such a great feeling to feel comfortable talking to a professional who gets you, without feeling like just another patient for a 55-minute session and being ushered out quickly for the next person to come in. She allows me to text and email her when I need more of an immediate response, rather than waiting for our next session. Im grateful for the urgency she provides, but also am mindful not to abuse it.
Find your mental health tools, and put them to work
Time is not an enemy, but rather the space we work in. I’ve taken the constructive time to work on myself with this new therapist to develop the tools and tactics I mentioned earlier to help me with this continuous mental health journey. Explore what helps you, and keep track of what doesn’t to find your mental health tools. Writing, listening to a lot of great music, and exercise are my go-to’s when I need to decompress and get my head right.
Finding ways to make friends with your mental health in a way that works for you is crucial. My best advice is to start opening up. Find someone you trust; whether it’s a friend, a mentor, a parent (Hi, Mom!), a therapist or even a paper and pen to start, and release. There’s no shame in being open about how you feel. In fact, it’s brave, something to be proud of. Most importantly, pray and meditate. Find stillness and peace wherever you can and let that be your guide. Rather than hide from your depression, own your vulnerability. Letting all the unwanted, unhappy feelings and issues out soon becomes liberating and empowering. You begin to feel lighter. You feel your mood improving when you know you’re making an effort to be better. I wanted to be healthy for myself because I knew I didn’t want to sink in those dark holes without a way out. There are days that are challenging. I realize I’m human. Life is hard. Shit happens. I can’t run away from my feelings/emotions; I have to go through it. I have to express my thoughts, my pain, my truth. But, being more mindful of how I’m going to get through it and having the right support, makes finding my mental health happiness more attainable.
Mental health resources
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Find support, learn, get involved
Mental Health America – Find support, learn, get involved
Betterhelp – Online counseling
Calm – Meditation app
Lauren Beale is an L.A. native, who currently resides in Washington D.C. Her passions consist of writing/blogging, exploring new places and anything that has to do with music. Lauren started sharing her journey about her own mental health just a little over a year ago. Although it’s been about 9 years since having depression and anxiety, it wasn’t until she decided to uproot from New York and head to DC, thinking a change of scenery would help, when depression set in again. After taking some time to recluse in her shell, she made a conscious effort to seek help again. Lauren started a lifestyle blog, www.LaurenxElle.com, to connect with others through conversation with her thoughts, interests, and travels. To read more of Lauren’s writing, visit her site, leave a comment and follow Lauren @laurenexelle.