Well considering the fact that today is Mental Health Awareness Day a post seems like a good idea.
Mental Health isn’t really something they teach you about in school. At least, they don’t do an excellent job if that is their intention. We get told that if we need to stay home we have to be coughing and sneezing with a doctor’s note to prove that we really need a day off so we don’t infect our classmates. They don’t give us the same courtesy when anxiety is causing us to vomit and barely eat, or when depression eats away at your self esteem and desire to continue living.
I learned more about eating disorders from my dance classes than I ever did in Life Orientation – a class where the sole purpose was to
supposedly prepare us for the real wold after school ends. They tell you that junk food is bad for health and will make you fat, but they fail to teach you that it also contributes to your mental health, or lack thereof. Then when you look at what they sell at the cafeteria and tuck-shops… it seems like a rather large juxtaposition.
To them, it’s meaningless. We’re only kids, we don’t have real problems. They’re only there to teach us how to multiply numbers, and our problems along with it.
We don’t learn about healthy ways to cope with the things that plague us. Half of us turn to the internet where these illnesses are glamourised and encouraged in some circles. Sub-cultures of people who think Ana and Mia (AKA. Anorexia and Bullimia) are their friends, helping them to become beautiful. More people who see poetry in bleeding wrists.
Personifying the mental illnesses that the rest of the world believe to be imaginary friends. More like imaginary enemies.
It’s true I’ve been out of school for a couple of years now (eeek) but I hope that one day it becomes common practice to educate children about Mental Health at a time when they might need it the most.
It has taken me the better part of a decade to get the hang of dealing with my own mental health and learn about the importance of self care. I can tell you now that taking a day or two off during high school to take care of myself would have made a huge difference. Especially my anxiety and probably also depression.
Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
My mother has always been good at motivating people. She’s quite determined when it comes to making sure people are doing their jobs. That’s why she is a manager after all.
Most times, talking to her has helped me to snap out of my funk and get back to being a functioning member of society. I suppose her background in psychology is also helpful.
I may not always agree with her, and she has taught me how to think for myself. However there is one major thing that she taught me that I still believe in and I try to implement it to the best of my abilities
when I remember. What I’m referring to is taking care of yourself. In the sense of knowing what is wrong and also knowing how to deal with it.
I’ve learned how to cope with my panic attacks. I know how to deal with mine in particular. What works for me may not necessarily work for someone else. I’m also learning how to deal with my bouts of depression now that my mom isn’t there to give me a reality check and remind me to eat properly, exercise, drink enough water, and all that jazz.
It is so important for us to be aware that there are ways to treat mental illnesses. We are not weak for having them. I personally do not take any prescription medication for it, as it does not have a highly detrimental effect on my ability to function for the most part. I stick with natural remedies and holistic care. Rescues, St John’s Wort and so forth.
My relationship with food and eating disorders should probably be a post of itself. I do struggle to have a healthy relationship with food and that’s something that has always been in my life. But there are ways to get better at it. I’ve done it all before. Being responsible for my own groceries has made it more challenging to say the least. Not impossible though.
The point of all these rambles is just my way of saying that I’ve struggled with mental health issues and I know there isn’t just a cure to it. It’s something that you deal with every single day. It doesn’t just disappear when all the teenage angst dissipates. That’s why it’s important to find ways to help yourself.
Therapy, journaling, talking to a friend, writing about it on the internet, making a video about it, acknowledging it is the first step of making progress. You can’t treat something that you deny the existence of.
Most importantly, you’re not alone out there and it can get better. It will get better if you do something about it and you’ll be stronger for it.
I also believe the best approach is a holistic one. Body, mind, soul. We are complex creatures. If one part is suffering, the rest will too. I’ve found that my mind does a lot better when my body and soul are happy too.
Yoga, a healthy meal, a chat with a friend, dancing in my room, meditating before I fall asleep.
I have had some of the best days reading a good book with only a cup of tea for company.
You know what makes you happy. You know when you need a break from life to just take a breather and find a better grasp again.
For anyone who is going through a hard time, feel free to send me a message on my social media accounts. Sometimes just having a chat with a stranger or an acquaintance does some good.
Around last year an old school mate sent me a private message and she shared her story with me. It was a bit of an eye opener. Sometimes the happiest (or most popular) kids at school are going through a lot.
We all have our own stories and our own struggles. The best we can do is to be kind to one another, always, and give a helping hand or listening ear when we can.
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