6 Helpful Reminders for When You’re Struggling with Mental Health
Depression sucks. I’ve struggled with it my whole life.
It’s an energy sinkhole that drains the life out of you and can leave you feeling depleted whether you got out of bed that day or not.
The pandemic has triggered the mental health issues of millions. People are struggling. For some, every day right now is a fight to stay above water. Thankfully, mental health is being taken seriously now and is a part of society’s conversation.
Here are six reminders that have helped me through these crazy times.
#1. You Are Not Alone
For the longest time, mental health had a stigma and was kept in secret.
The secrecy was because the world at large would label people as “crazy” and throw them in an institution for the rest of their lives. Or, call them a witch and burn them at the stake.
Thankfully, we’ve evolved.
Mental health, and taking care of it, has (finally) become more mainstream.
There’s now more information and a better understanding of brain chemistry than ever before.
Science has been able to study the brain and learn what takes place physiologically to apply new methods to help. More studies are underway, and further information is coming out every day.
Things to remember:
You’re not alone.
I used to think that no one would understand my depression. Once I sought counseling for it, I was stunned. I learned that not only was I not alone, but it was quite common.
According to the World Health Organization, over 264 million people suffer from depression, and nearly 800,000 people die due to depression-related suicide every year. That is a staggering amount.
One out of every four people suffers from some type of diagnosed mental illness. That’s 25% of the population! Others suffer from more than one kind of mental illness.
The point is: You aren’t the only one suffering.
#2. Having a Mental Illness Is Not a Personal Failure
A mental health issue isn’t your fault because it’s not entirely in your control.
No one chooses to have depression or anxiety. No one voluntarily says, “I want to live like this.”
I felt like a complete failure for years because I was never excited for life or grateful for it either. There were some days that I wanted to die, for no reason whatsoever.
It might seem obvious that having depression wasn’t my “fault,” but when you’re in that mental storm, you can’t see clearly. There is zero clarity at times.
You lose sight of logic. You can’t connect to your passions or purpose. You feel awful, and you don’t want to get out of bed.
Things to remember:
It’s not your fault.
While you had no control in choosing your brain, you do have control over your actions. And you can train yourself to think better thoughts. You can research different strategies that others have created and adapt them for yourself.
Personally, physical activity helped me.
Getting in the gym with a training partner helped me to stay accountable. The training wasn’t the hard part, but taking that first step and starting momentum was.
When I was training, especially with someone else, it would alter my focus from my problems, and I’d be working towards a goal with someone by my side. The training was a distraction, and it brought a lot of comfort when I needed it.
Other friends of mine read, paint, learn instruments, or play video games to help them escape. But the key is to do something.
This leads me to my next point.
#3. It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Now is the best time in history to get help. There are entire professions devoted to helping people who have mental health problems.
Plus, you have the internet.
There are endless apps, books, and YouTube channels devoted to the topic. The resources are there, but lack of resourcefulness falls on us.
Things to remember:
If you feel like you have a problem, don’t stay silent, primarily because of fear.
Fear is like a fire, and time is the tinder on which it burns. The longer you wait, the greater the fear will become. It will eventually paralyze you from taking any action at all.
Speak up. See a specialist and take action.
Something that helped me was confidants — people I could trust with my life and these sensitive issues, and vent to when needed. These angels were usually my best friends. They knew me better than anyone, and I was surprised when they admitted that they struggled too.
When you open up, I have found that people are all the more willing to help when they can. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy!
It’s ironic, but it takes courage and confidence to be vulnerable. But once you talk about it, you’ll be grateful you did.
Will you solve all of your mental health problems? No. It’s a process. But you’ll be able to turn down the volume a bit and regain control.
#4. It’s Okay to Have Bad Days
Aadish Thakare has said,
“One bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life.”
Please, don’t assume that one bad day or week means you are cursed. A conclusion like this isn’t correct.
While I understand that we all desire comfort and safety, growth comes from living outside of our comfort zones.
We will have good days and bad days. None of those days determine our worth. We do.
It’s essential not to put so much weight on the conditions. Some days, we need to cry. Sometimes, we yell, scream, vent, or all of the above. Reacting in this manner doesn’t mean we are worthless.
Once again, it’s just a bad day, and it’ll pass just like all the others.
Things to remember:
Bad days will happen. Sometimes bad weeks. That’s guaranteed.
What we must remember is that it’s all a part of the journey. The good, the bad, the ugly, the messy, and the unknown all funnel together, creating this beautiful thing called life.
We cannot ever be “eternally happy,” and things will never be “perfect.” So stop aiming for that. That’s an illusion.
The person who chases a mirage never gets it. They realize, eventually, it was all a trick — a fantasy.
Life is not perfect. It’s full of setbacks, delays, challenges, and failures. It will always be like that whether you struggle with mental health or not.
#5. Celebrate the Small Wins
So often, we get caught up in our day-to-day responsibilities that they overwhelm us.
We get bogged down by our “to-do” list that we forget to acknowledge our accomplishments. When we don’t pat ourselves on the back for our achievements, no matter how small, and we only focus on what isn’t done yet, we put ourselves in a state of imbalance.
The scales are so heavily tipped in the realm of what’s “missing” and what hasn’t been “accomplished.” As a result, we only feel what’s lacking. Not what we have.
I’m an ambitious person. I have big goals and dreams backed by a burning desire to achieve them.
That’s all well and good, but I realized along my journey that I only focused on what I didn’t have. I never learned to celebrate my wins, and, as a result, I was always miserable. I never felt any sense of accomplishment. This pattern only fed my depression more.
This was foolish on my part because every step in the direction of our dreams, no matter how insignificant it might seem, is an accomplishment that deserves praise.
Things to remember:
Are you similar to the younger version of who I was?
Do you celebrate your victories? Do you acknowledge your effort and pat yourself on the back?
If not, you’re going to have a miserable journey. It’s going to be very hard to feel any self-confidence when you don’t take the time to recognize and cultivate it.
It doesn’t need to be significant victories either. Small wins deserve recognition too.
Did you get out of bed today? That’s a win.
Did you make your bed? That’s another win.
Did you brush your teeth? Work out? Shower? Go to work? These are all wins!
They might seem trivial, but choosing to get out of bed when we don’t want to is enormous.
How often do we overlook the times when we exercised self-discipline? And then, didn’t feel pride over giving our all because we don’t have “the goal” complete? If you’re anything like I was, the answer is far too often.
Consider having a gratitude journal. This helped me drastically.
- Get a brand new notebook. Go to a CVS or a Target and find a notebook that makes you feel good. Walk down the aisle and browse. One will resonate with you once you see it. Get it.
- Only write what you’re grateful for in it. There are different teachers and methods out there for this, but what worked for me was writing only the things I was thankful for. I did not write my dreams or what I was attempting to manifest. Those were always on repeat in my brain and needed no assistance — just gratitude and appreciation. I needed to focus on doing this to help me stay positive better control my state.
- Create a scheduled time to write. For me, I always write in my gratitude journal before I go to bed. I wanted to recall all of my day’s events that went well and cultivate the feelings of gratitude before I drifted off. This made me feel so, so good falling asleep. I celebrated the day with a sense of success and fulfillment by focusing on what went right.
- Write down what you’re grateful for and why. Every night, I’ll write ten things I’m thankful for and why I’m grateful for them. I focus on the “what” to remind me of the blessing. I focus on the “why” to amp up the feelings.
Try it out. Maybe, writing at night doesn’t work for you. That’s fine. Try doing it in the morning over your cup of coffee or tea. What matters is that you do it, and you celebrate your wins.
#6. You Matter
Your ego is a deceiving devil.
It will feed you lies that you aren’t:
- Good enough
- Tall enough
- Rich enough
- Talented enough
- Pretty enough
With the ego, it’s never enough. Ever.
It’s that voice in your head saying you “should” be further along than you currently are. Ego is telling you that you should’ve already conquered all your goals, and you should’ve achieved the life society tells you to have.
Ego also compares you to other people regularly.
Stop. Take a breath. Recognize that you aren’t where you want to be, and that’s okay. The story is still being written. You matter.
Things to remember:
Replace the word “should” with “could.”
Anytime your ego chimes in, saying you “should” be or have x, y, z, stop immediately. Splice the word “could” in its place.
I should be rich becomes I could be rich.
I should be in a relationship becomes I could be in a relationship.
Take any of your “shoulds” and replace them with could. It will immediately shift your position and reframe the situation, empowering yourself in the process.
“Should” creates pressure. “Could” creates power.
Listen, I get it. Mental health issues can be awful.
But feeling helpless doesn’t mean you are powerless. There’s plenty that you can do to regain your strength.
The biggest thing to remember about having mental health problems is that it’s okay. You aren’t broken or cursed. And you don’t need to be “perfect.” Even diamonds have some flaws.
Keep these six points in mind when you’re struggling:
- You are not alone
- Having a mental illness is not a personal failure
- It’s okay to ask for help (it’s encouraged)
- It’s okay to have bad days
- Celebrate the small wins
- You matter
These reminders will bring you comfort when you’re feeling like you’re drowning. Refer to them when you need them.
Don’t stay silent. Don’t try to tackle these issues alone, either. Talk to someone, get help, and remember that you matter.
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