I’ve already written a self care post this week but I thought I would write some meditations on mental health and protecting yourself, and not letting people seep into your understanding of your self. In short, just don’t let other people tell you what you can mentally handle. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing work, communicate those thoughts and articulate your stress so that people can understand you. And if you can’t? Say that, say you are having trouble articulating your mental health but whatever you are doing or are being asked to do is causing it and you need a break.
Coming from someone who has spent a week dealing with her own anxious state of mind, and communicating in a positive way to my supporting group that I need safe, comfort and supportive space this week, I acknowledge how lucky and privileged it is to be able to say that I am uncomfortable and turn down something or have the possibility to actively pursue healthy mental states. I understand that not everyone across the world has access to that, but if you do, like me, have a support group and the ability to communicate your mental health safety, it is up to you to advocate for yourself.
I’ve been teaching advocacy for a long time now, and the thing about it is you can’t expect someone else to advocate on your behalf.
There are harder things to deal with externally than mental health, but mental problems are out of your control, and the most you can do to deal with them is be honest with yourself.
I think I wanted to write this and about my experience this past week because I have found a lot of people around me lately putting people down for their own experiences, or that they are considering their life hard even though there are other people in the world dealing with hard things too. Everyone has their own experiences, and are able to go through their own personal hardships and feel overwhelmed, even if you yourself have experienced something subjectively harder, that doesn’t mean that everyone can handle the same amount of stress or hardship.
I’ve had to learn this, admittedly, after having multiple major disabling surgeries over my high school years, I used to get really annoyed when people would complain about readings or exams, when it is in my opinion harder for me to do these things. I have internalized, and understand, that everyone has a story, and everyone is going through something, and so everyone is entitled to feeling overwhelmed if they so wish.
This past week I have spent every evening through the night trying to sleep and being plagued by anxiety, making it hard to get up and focus on work, readings, meetings, administrative duties and emails all the while being healthy and positive to others and myself. Taking care of myself is a hard thing to do on a budget with very little energy and time, but it is more important than anything, because I am no use to anyone unless I am okay.
Until I have children that will be my mentality, and by then this will all have changed.
That’s something I’d like to establish and end on: mental health changes. I can be fine in the morning and totally overwhelmed by the evening, go to “sleep,” and then wake up again feeling relatively okay. It comes and goes and flows in waves, it never feels consistent and it is all specific to me. I really truly only understand my own experiences, don’t you? So why do people still pass judgements on how other people experience things, especially mental health and stress?
If you’re like me, and trying to manage your own mental health while balancing work or school or life in general, keep on it, keep diligent and honest, and keep talking. To anyone. I have an entirely other blog that is private that I only use to articulate and play out my own thoughts so that when I do become overwhelmed I can just get things outside of my head. Find something that works for you, someone you trust to confide in and lean on, and never let anyone tell you that your stress is unjust just because someone else might have had a harder time than you.
Your stress is real, your life and hardships are worth your time and they clearly made an impression on you that’s why you are worrying or stressing or feeling overwhelmed, that is a good thing, just find what is best to you to deal with it.
That last paragraph was mostly advice for myself, as I take some deep belly breaths and head back to my reading, which I have another four hours of today. I needed a sit-up, eye, water break, so I thought I’d write this for you. Are you stressed? Tell me about it if you want, if not, take a deep belly breath…they are underrated, and beautiful, and helpful.
Breathing, one of the only things I can rely on.