Better late than never 🙂 October is World Mental Health Month. This year I thought of sharing what has helped my mental health journey for the past four years. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but I feel I’ve made significant progress from where I was during my teenage years and in my 20s.
Open up wisely. We definitely have more awareness of mental health in recent years. We’ve made advances in how to manage our well-being, as well as treatment of certain mental disorders. But many people still don’t understand it, so there are people subjected to judgment and blame when they share their journeys and trauma. The whole world does not need to know about your battles yet. Choose the people you open up to carefully. The people you confide do not necessarily mean immediate family and friends, especially if you don’t trust them. The harsh truth is, some people don’t really want to help, they just want to know what is “wrong” with you.
Rationalize. Most of the time, our mental health issues are exasperated by strong emotions that overwhelm or cripple us. There are many ways to counter them which can be learned in therapy. What works for me is to oppose my negative thoughts with facts or realistic statements. Strong emotions tend to cloud our judgment, so putting things in a more realistic perspective allows us to be aware of what is happening to us (the truth and the illusion), how we are reacting, and what doable actions we can do to help ourselves. Affirmations and manifestations are all good and well, but I do find them to be band-aid solutions that don’t address the real issues that need to be fixed.
On Therapy. If you have the resources, access, and time, I highly encourage going to therapy or counseling. It was a life-changing step for me. It made me gain awareness of my experiences and how they shaped who I am, as well as new skills and tools to heal myself. Having said these, two things I learned in my counseling journey:
*Therapy will work if you open yourself up to it. If possible, don’t force yourself into therapy if you don’t believe in it. If you do go for it, keep your mind and heart open, be present (physically, mentally, emotionally) in your sessions, and be open to being helped and helping yourself too.
*Therapist / Counselor compatibility matters. It’s like dating. Therapists / Counselors employ different styles that may or may not suit you. Part of the journey is finding out if you are compatible with your therapist’s style. That means you may need to go to a few people before finding your match.
Your mental health journey is yours to shape and takes care of. As simple as the awareness of where you are in your progress can propel you to make small steps to improve your health. Ultimately, I hope that you put it in your heart that as much as your past and current circumstances affect you, you can write about how your mental health story continues. I hope you write a good one 🙂
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