The air crackles with uncertainty. Every day there is a new development that angers, saddens,
frustrates or scares us. We don’t know what’s happening in the world so we don’t know what to do. I’ve noticed how the levels of anxiety have increased. I see it in my own life; I hear it in conversations with family and friends. I see it on the job with colleagues and students. I see it in the interactions between strangers. For the first time in my teaching career, we have had two suicide attempts in the same year. I teach in an elementary school. Most everybody is on edge. Something is amiss. What can we do?
We have to take better care of ourselves and each other. We have to learn to recognize the signs of mental health deterioration and seek help. Sometimes it may a temporary problem like circumstantial depression or anxiety, or sometimes it maybe something that we have to learn to live with like bio polar disorder or schizophrenia.
Since 1949, May has been designated Mental Health Month (also referred to as Mental Health Awareness Month) by Mental Health America and their affiliates. And even though we are nearing the end of the month, it’s never too late to late to take steps to take care of ourselves.
There is no better time than the present to assess our mental health and mend our minds. So many people of all ages, ethnicities and income brackets are struggling with mental instability. Many suffer from some form of PTSD and are doing the best they can just to get through the day. Some don’t even bother trying.
If our problems are temporary in that they are brought on by loss, or significant life changes, we must acknowledge our feelings and sort through them. This may require us to write it out, talk it out, cry or shout it out, pray, meditate or whatever it takes to get centered after being knocked off our square. We have to get quiet, get still, and go within. But when our self-medicating strategies, it’s time to seek professional help.
Gone are the days of thinking that only crazy people get therapy. If we take care of our physical self through diet and exercise, our spiritual well being through prayer, meditation, and fellowship, then we must also take care of our mental health. And we have to know when professional services are needed. Listed below are a few things we need to embrace to become our best selves.
1. Like physicians, therapists are trained to heal what hurts, too. We have no trouble going to the doctor. We don’t try to heal our own broken bones or operate on ourselves. We seek those who are trained in the art of healing. The same applies to a therapist/counselor. While physicians heal the physical, therapists take care of our mental well being.
2. Emotional and mental pain is an equal opportunity stressor. It’s time to let go of the myth that only “weak” people have breakdowns or that therapy is for CRAZY PEOPLE ONLY! The truth is most of us are dealing with life’s many stresses and we need coping skills for when the stress becomes too much.
3. Once is not enough. Some us may have tried therapy once, and it didn’t work. That’s no reason not to try it again. We don’t lose weight the first time we step into the gym or play a beautiful piece of music the first time we sit a piano.
4. One size doesn’t fit all. Shop around for a therapist just as you would a car or a pair of shoes, find the one that fits you. Knowledge is literally at the tips of fingers. We can “google” anything. And let’s not forget word of mouth. When seeking a therapist we should shop around until we find one who is suitable to our needs.
We know that the body breaks down, but we won’t admit that the mind breaks, too. Sometimes life punches so hard, that it takes all we can to get back up. Instead of sitting there trying to catch our wind alone, we might need the hand of a therapist to reach down and help us get back on our feet.