Hello all, I hope you enjoyed your holiday and are ready to hit the ground running this week! Normally I prioritize exercise and healthy eating on this, but I want to go a different route today and talk about a topic near and dear to my heart…or in this case, brain: mental health.
Now, students enrolled in higher education curriculum are no strangers to stress and anxiety, but more often than not, these levels go unchecked. Often times, people think these feelings will eventually pass and they’ll move on with their lives; unfortunately that isn’t the case most times. I’ve personally dealt with a bout of depression this past summer and I was Shocked at how crippling it can be. I had no desire to do anything but sleep (which was a chore itself), I couldn’t find joy in any of my favorite activities, and I relied heavily on substances to make me feel…anything. I dragged along, day by day like this until a suggestion from a colleague: visit the counseling center.
Now like most minority people, I wasn’t a fan of visiting any sort of counselor. I thought of it as admitting defeat, attention seeking, whiny, etc. But ANYTHING had to be better than this. So I begrudgingly scheduled an appointment. I was surprised at how quickly I grew comfortable. Having a stranger to talk and vent to just felt…liberating. Imagine talking to someone who has no context or bias, cannot judge you or your actions, and is only there to listen to your problems and provide the best advice. It was insanely comfortable.
I was also introduced to mindfulness, defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”. Mindfulness is essentially meditation, and while not something I was open to at first, it helps with massive levels of anxiety. It takes me out of my head, keeps me from the what ifs and allows me to be present in the moment. I stopped worrying about things I couldn’t change and started living again!
Mental health isn’t easy or fun to talk about, but it is critical that we do. There’s no point in having a fit, healthy body if you can’t stand life. We must not neglect this aspect of our health, but address it head on. So many deaths can be prevented if we reach out and just talk to someone. As someone who has lived through depression and chronic anxiety, I ask that if you feel that way, find some one or some (healthy) way to address it. You can beat this!
Share your mental health stories in the comments!
Dr. Chaos, signing off!