This past Saturday was Mental Health Awareness Day, and I think it is something that needs to be talked about. Throughout all of time, our parents and grandparents have grown up being told that we are to keep our problems hush hush. We are to put on a happy face and act like everything is perfect, even when our brains and emotions tell us differently. I think we are the first generation who is actually speaking up about mental health and not letting it be this taboo thing. Which it shouldn’t be, because so many people deal with mental health problems.
So, let’s talk about it, time to put it out there in the open. I am struggling. The past 2 and a half months have been really tough on me. I started the school year getting COVID, and isolation hit hard. I was alone for 10 days straight, only seeing my parents and friends when they would facetime me, not even seeing my roommates or anyone on the outside world. Sitting in a room by yourself gets lonely, especially over long periods of time. (It makes complete sense why prisoners put in solitary confinement have so many mental issues when they are released.) So, not only was I sick and stuck in my room, I was completely isolated from the world around me, which began the decline of my mental and emotional health.
Before I go any further, let me just say I am not writing this to have a pity party for myself or to make people feel sorry for me. I am writing this to show each and every one of you reading this that you are not alone in feeling the way that you do.
After I was released from isolation, I still couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of loneliness. Although I was now back out in the world surrounded by people, I still felt like I was by myself. My house no longer felt like a home, but a prison that I was stuck in. My daily routine became a concrete structure in which I followed like clockwork. I didn’t like how it felt, the feeling of not being wanted by those around you but I didn’t know exactly where I was to go from there.
I called my parents a lot, bawling on the phone and telling them how I felt so alone. I began to cling to the people in my life who felt like light. I discovered the people who truly cared for me and had my back through this season. My mom told me I needed to find at least 3 things a day to be grateful for even if it is just a comfy bed. She also instructed me to do things that bring me joy, like going on a drive to get coffee. I strived to find the joy in each day and focused on the present, taking life one day at a time.
Although my mental health is nowhere near the best it has been, I have come to realize that I’m not going through it by myself. I have staple people in my life who I know love and care for me and would be there for me at the drop of a hat. And when I start to feel that overwhelming sensation of loneliness, I know I have people in my corner, fighting alongside of me. Not only do I have people who are here for me, I also have a God who loves me so much and has never left my side. I have a Father who holds me and guides me towards His light even when I feel completely in the dark.
And no, I’m not going to say this season is over because I still feel so drained every single day, but I now can say that I know I have people who are there with me every step of the way towards the light. So, while I may go sit in my car and cry while I talk to my sister, I know that this isn’t the end all be all. I know that there are better things coming, I just have to focus on the little things that bring me joy and find the people who feel like light.
Don’t let people convince you that you are being selfish for prioritizing your mental health. People like that are not worth your time. Take your time and spend it alone if you need it, say ‘no’ if you don’t want to go out. You don’t have to please everyone, you need to be your own top priority, and if someone can’t understand that then they are not there to bring quality to your life.
So, to the girl who is struggling, let someone know. Let people hold you when you cry and blast loud music when you need to just take a drive to get away from reality. If you are at your lowest, know that it will get better, there is always something good to look for. Don’t let society tell you that you cannot feel things, it is more than okay to feel AND express how you feel. Don’t keep it locked inside, let it out, don’t let the stigma of mental health win. Talk about how you feel, find the people who feel like light, and know you are not going through this alone no matter how lonely you feel.