As if we weren’t already chest deep wading through our emotions on a daily basis, the calendar reminded me that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health Awareness is special to us because my husband has a diagnosed illness. Because we’ve walked through the messy side of mental health for a long time before we sought professional help.
We all have to care for our mental health, especially after nearly 2 months of shelter in place orders. I was scrolling facebook the other day and say an article talking about how people are experiencing strange vivid dreams during the pandemic. These dreams aren’t a symptom of the virus but a symptom of anxiety.
Those with diagnosed Mental Health Disorders, like my husband, have had a new level of stress during the pandemic especially as an essential worker. Together, we’ve learned to see and recognize when things get hard.
We all experience anxiety and depression in unique ways. When I feel a panic attack coming on thinking is not possible, my chest tightens up like my lungs cannot expand. If I begin to feel anxious I will usually stop what I’m doing and walk around my apartment with my arms up taking deep (belly) breaths. Sometimes I call a friend and tell them I just need to get something out of my head and will they just listen, saying or writing what causes me anxiety helps me feel like I’m not holding it inside of me anymore. How do you experience anxiety? As a Enneagram 4, I hate to admit that sometimes I do feel depressed. This was the one attribute about being a 4 I’ve pushed against the most. My feelings of depression, though not often nor diagnosed, can put me in a fog for days. There were a few days over the last few months that I wanted to do nothing, never leave the bed, or read another email. I kept waking up hoping all this was a dream. What got me through those days was patience with myself, by starting work a little later, Marco Polos with my best friend and sister, and going on long walks with Asher. It is okay to feel this way for a while, we all have.
If you find yourself feeling depressed or overly anxious please get professional help. Go to nami.org
What does caring for your mental health look like? What makes you feel better? We keep an on-going list of things to do when we feel down, getting outside, coloring, taking a long bath, diffusing essential oils, journaling, calling a friend and so on. Take care of yourself friends and remember you can’t draw from an empty well. You need to take care of yourself to take care of others.