The Importance of Self-Care & Mental Health

I’ve started this post what feels like 1,000 times. It’s such a critical, taboo topic that needs to be talked about more but for some reason, it isn’t. And I hate that because whenever we lose someone to addiction, to suicide, to some other mental health issue — we wonder why they didn’t come forward. Why they didn’t ask for help or come to someone they trusted or why they didn’t just realize that it really does get better. We wonder why they were so selfish that they chose their own suffering over getting better. And if you’ve ever struggled with your own mental health, you know that it’s so much more complicated, so much more difficult than simply just asking for help.

Over the past few months, I am finally in a place to admit now that I’ve struggled recently and at times, I still do. I’ve struggled to find my worth, to remember that I’m more than my anxiety & depression, that I’m worth more than just basic survival. And I’ve had to ask for help, for reminders that I was necessary in this world, that I’ll get thru these roadblocks. I haven’t always dealt with my struggles in a healthy way and for that, I sincerely apologize. But I think what was the strangest thing about asking for help was how awkward & wrong it felt. It felt like I was creating myself to be a burden or a liability — and I think that’s a huge hindrance to mental health advocacy because in a way, asking for help or the mere thought of it almost put me into a spiral. I know I’m far more proud than the average person but I still hated admitting that I wasn’t doing well.

Whether it’s subconsciously or not, we often look at people who ask for help mentally as if it’s their fault. That being depressed or anxious or something else is just a switch you can turn on & off. That it’s something that can simply be fixed by going out into nature once or twice and simply radiating positive thoughts. Mental health and self-care take work. And a lot of it, more so than just Epsom salt baths and mud masks. You have to understand that your behaviour, even if you’re struggling, has consequences and just because you’re mentally ill doesn’t give you a scapegoat excuse to be a douche.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that mental health is confusing and self-care is weird. Both topics are complicated and tough beyond measure. As my mom likes to remind me, progress not perfection. What I like to take that to mean is that perfection is an illusion but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to be the best person you can be.

If you’re struggling, please know that you’re not alone. That other people have also struggled just as you are and there are avenues for you to reach out & get out of your black hole rut. But in a way more importantly, if a friend reaches out to you for help, for the love of Christ, don’t turn them away. Don’t make them feel like asking for help is somehow shameful or awful. Because I can tell you for certain that they struggled whether or not to air their mental struggles and questioned whether or not they could trust you.

If we don’t want to lose one more person to mental health, we have to make it more acceptable to ask for help. We have to educate ourselves on what it means to survive and that we cannot do this thing called life alone. We have to realize that taking care of ourselves is more so than just some glitzy whoo whoo trend. It’s absolutely crucial to surviving this life in a way that isn’t self deprecarting or mission critical.

A poem that has really gotten me thru recently is by Ruby Dhal. And it goes

One day you will learn to make peace with your past. Thinking about what happened might cause you discomfort but it will no longer cause you pain. You will come so far from what happened and who you were that a part of you will cherish the lessons you learned along the way. And maybe you might even be grateful for the experience because of what it taught you and how much it changed you. One day you will reach a point where your heart will no longer hurt and each painful experience will be a distant memory fading far away into the past. And you will think about the present and be grateful for a future. Over here you will find countless reasons to love and be happy. Over here you will find peace and contentment. And over here you will find yourself. 

Mental health never goes away. What heals me now may not in the future. But what helps me keep going forward is that maybe one day, I’ll finally find a time where I am truly happy and content.

If you’re reading this, I believe in you. I believe your struggle and I believe that you are worth more than you know. If you need an ear that knows nothing about your past, please reach out to me either via email or social media and if I cannot help you, I will point you in the right direction.

But if you’re struggling, how do we take care of ourselves if we’re not comfortable directly asking for help? What’s worked for me and a few close friends is every morning, meditate. Set your intentions for the day — what do you want to get accomplished? It could be something as easy as creating a to-do list and eating a healthy meal. Figure out what’s important to you and who can help you get there. Breathe. Invest in yourself — even if it’s just breathing exercises and taking a walk when necessary.

Self-care is not selfish. It’s absolutely necessary. Do you first and everything else will fall into place. that doesn’t mean be an asshole — it just means place your self-care as the first priority and you’ll be better able to take care of everyone else. Figure out what motivates you.

You are worth every breath you take. You are worth every moment you are here and you are necessary beyond measure. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it will flicker but it’s still there. I promise that it will get brighter and you will work harder than you’ve ever worked before but it will be so worth it. I am so rooting for you and I’m in your corner with some tea, crumpets, and a fort if you need it.

Let’s create a community of self-care and community. What are your self-care methods and how do you take care of yourself & others? let me know in the comments!

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Dana,

    This is a very well written and thought out article. I commend you for writing it and giving hope and help to others who may struggle with mental health issues. I think it it marvelous! Bravo for you!!!

    Amah >

    Like

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