I cannot believe, it is May 4th, and I have NOT acknowledged that it is Mental Health awareness month!! I think I have said this before, I am a counselor by trade. I have a MA in counseling, and although not practicing at the moment, I am a Licensed Master’s Social Worker, Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional, and a Co-Occurring Disorders Professional-Diplomat in the state of Delaware. I say all that not to toot my horn, but to share how mental health has always been an interest of mine and is very near and dear to my heart.
After getting honest with myself a little before the pandemic, I realized I was battling feelings of depression that stemmed from my issues with perfectionism, momming, wife’n, and all that can come with being a woman, in general, like superwoman syndrome (thinking we can do all things without the help of others). My skewed idea that I needed to be perfect in EVERYTHING had me feeling down in the dumps when I realized that was not possible. I cannot be the perfect mom, wife, employee, friend, woman, Christian, you name it because there was no such thing. I didn’t recognize that it was depression until I started seeing how “dry” my personality had become, how irritable I was, and how I lacked the energy to do anything but the bare minimum. Thankfully, I was able to overcome this, but I wanted to know, have you ever experienced this? Are experiencing this now? Long story short…you good, sis?
I know as wives, moms, and women…we tend to think we can do it all, but the truth of the matter is, we shouldn’t. We run ourselves ragged trying to do everything under the sun, but that can lead to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. Depression because we are giving to everyone but ourselves, losing interest in our own hobbies and goals, anxiety because we feel like there is always something to do and we cannot seem to get it all done…we start speaking negatively to ourselves, eat unhealthily, never make time for self, become irritated, snap at everyone, etc. All the time, we think we are holding it together, but really, inside we have 1000 tabs open trying to see which one is safe to close out of at the moment. As moms, wives, and women, in general, we do not see this as a mental health concern. We think that is just life, and just how it is. But girl, it is definitely something to be concerned about. Your mental health should always be a priority to you!! I know when I got down to the root of why I was so irritated and running on autopilot, it was because I had become depressed and was experiencing forms of anxiety. I had to get myself together real quick!! The following helped me out tremendously:
- Calling it what it is—there is nothing wrong with recognizing you may be experiencing mental health symptoms. ***Please note: just because you are experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety does not mean you have a mental health diagnosis of depression or anxiety. Those are 2 different things; a diagnosis requires a continuum of symptoms that seem to worsen or never go away. Having certain feelings of depression or anxiety can be temporary depending on the season in your life (makes sense?). However, if you are experiencing symptoms that are lingering and not going away, I highly recommend you to see someone for an evaluation to identify if there is a diagnosis so that you can better address it.***
- Take time to REST—My devotional this morning was about rest, and boy, how it spoke to me. God says rest! Not just physical rest, but rest in Him. He does not want to see you overwhelmed, running around like a chicken with her head cut off. He wants you to be prosperous, and you cannot do that without resting. Remember this scripture, Matthew 11:28: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
- Set aside alone time to pray, read, journal. This is a way to feed your soul, gain wisdom, and let out all that is cluttering your mind.
- Get dressed!!! No matter how you feel, get dressed up in what makes you feel good. Sweats and messy hair can be comfy, but sometimes it contributes to our “sluggish,” depressing feelings. Wear the opposite of what you feel!!!
- And last but not least, put on some good music and DANCE!!!! Of course, if you are feeling sad, don’t play sad music. Play the opposite of what you feel…any Michael Jackson or Bob Marley will work for me. And you never can go wrong with some good, old gospel music!!
Of course, there are more things that I did, like revisiting old hobbies that made me happy, speaking to friends whom I trusted that had experienced the same thing, expressing what I was feeling, etc., but these are what stood out most. So, if you find yourself a little shaky and experiencing some feelings that may show that mentally, you aren’t yourself, try these tips, if they worsen, seek a therapist. There is nothing wrong with talking it out with someone or getting on a medication regimen. We need to make sure we are good. I said a few months ago when Miss USA, Chelsie Kryst, passed. Let people know if something is not right. Ask for help. Always know that someone is rooting for you and want to see you thriving. Just make sure you are good, sis!!! Be blessed.