I have been struggling in every aspect of my life for the last several months – anxiety, body image, graduate school, relationships, finances, mental health, and everything else under the sun. This post is by no means a cry for help, I am fine, I promise you. I just feel like I’m going through the motions but its been extremely tougher than usual. And, well, the motions keep coming, in circles, over and over again for months.
And in all of this commotion, I am trying so hard to give myself some grace through baby steps and serious self-care. Not self-soothing – self-care. It requires extra thought and care in working on some of the deeper-seated issues I have in those aspects of my life. There are lots of tears and lots of arguing (with myself and others). But there is also lots of clarity. And even though its sad and its frustrating to take two steps forward and continue to fall back … I am reminded that healing is cyclical. Now, its not an excuse to be a total a-hole, but rather that its okay to fall back a little bit while you progress.
As most of you already know, my husband is currently a Marine recruiter. We’ve finished one year of recruiting duty so far. This has been by far the roughest time we have ever endured as a couple. It is the wildest roller coaster ride and is, without a doubt, one of the biggest factors in this struggle. And through all of my many waves of emotions, he has been as understanding as he possibly can. I can’t forget that although I am going through something, the people around me are also going through their own motions. Something I am actively practicing is looking inward instead of outward. Reflecting instead of pointing fingers. And it is so hard.
But I’m trying, and that’s all I can do. There have been wins and losses during the last several months. I hope throughout the next few years, I am able to process and balance all of these aspects.
I hope that by sharing a little bit about what I’m dealing with reminds you of the process of grieving the parts of you that are gone, healing the parts of you that are hurt, strengthening the parts of you that are weak, and reflecting on the parts of you that make you unique.
I was asked months ago to discuss how I have been coping with my mental health issues, and then recently on my Instagram account, so here it is! Mental health will always be a recurring topic and I think itʻs super important to talk about it.
I have never been diagnosed but I do struggle with anxiety. Every person has some anxious thoughts, but the kind of anxiety I have keeps me in the house and makes me nervous to be alone in public settings. It really heightened in 2018 when I moved away from home. I had a huge realization that I probably had always been anxious but because I know my hometown like the back of my hand, I was able to get around and not be nervous. Now that I no longer live on the Big Island, I have become pretty introverted.
My coping skills from the summer of 2018 through early 2020 have been to just put errands off until someone can go with me, or to have things shipped to me instead of picking it up, or to just cancel it altogether. When the pandemic started in March of 2020, I was working from home for 3 months and during that time my anxiety was at an all time low (which is good), but some other issues popped up in its place.
2020 had been my worst year for my mental health. It was a roller coaster of mostly depression. My job began eating away at me (along with the state of the world, my communities, and other outside factors) and I was constantly complaining and crying at night. I was so unhappy and my husband and sister didnʻt know what to do and how to help me. Fortunately, my job had given me the opportunity to work in a behavioral/mental health field; I had met coworkers who specialized in mental health (licensed clinical social workers). I was able to discuss my problems and concerns with them. You know who you are! I am so grateful to know you.
I was given a tool to use! I mentioned it in my last life update post in October of 2020. The book I began reading in August 2020 with encouragement from my LCSW friend was Mind Over Mood. This book was the resource I needed to utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to identify the reason why I was reacting/feeling a certain way (in specific situations). Any time I felt upset for what I thought was no reason, really opened my eyes to why. Knowing ʻthe whyʻ allowed me to properly express my feelings and do something about it, whether it was telling someone the reason why I got upset, or realizing that the only thing that could go wrong was terribly unlikely. It also showed me techniques to soothe my anxious thoughts.
I so encourage you all to read through this book or look into CBT. In fact, to be honest, I need to read some chapters again because my anxiety has resurfaced and is stopping me from doing simple things like grocery shopping and dropping off packages to the post office.
If the book and reading is not for you thatʻs okay too. Finding someone you can share your thoughts with can help. Perhaps someone else experiencing the same or similar situations would be a good idea. I did rely heavily on a handful of my friends, my husband, and my sisters. I cried to them and spoke honestly and as freely as I could about my own issues. I asked them to listen and give me advice when solicited. For my loved ones who didnʻt understand or have not felt the way I felt, I explained my feelings as best I could.
I sat alone and prayed (if youʻre not religious, meditation might work as well) and tried to work it out on my own too. I let myself feel what I needed to feel, I tried not to hold it in as much as possible. My saving grace was letting my husband and sister know (I live with them) that my mood was not good today and I needed to be alone.
This is me being honest about my own mental health issues. We are not all the same and we may not all be able to self-teach but I encourage you to talk about it with someone (professional or not, depending on severity). Although this post may sound like I made myself the center of attention (I really hope that’s not what it is conveyed as), I was a good listener too. Sometimes the situations I felt so strong about was because of my own actions. With that being said, your pain is always valid and just because you may handle some situations better than someone else with mental health problems does not mean your problems are insignificant. We all deserve to be healthy (body, spirit, and mind).
Disclaimer: This is my own personal journey. I am in no means saying this will help everyone, and if you suffer from severe depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, please seek out help from a professional.