May is Mental Health Awareness Month and in speaking with my clients, friends, family, and myself (during the daily commute), we may be more aware of mental health this May than ever before. This has been a hard year. Which for a lot of us has meant an increase in anxiety, depression, rumination, procrastination, loneliness, fatigue, lack of energy, or any number of symptoms. Combine that with a restriction on coping in the ways that humans need to cope, in a relationship, through connection and belonging, and we have a perfect storm.
An important part, and sometimes the most challenging part, of mental health awareness, is talking honestly about how hard life can be sometimes. Many of us like to present a “put together”, “calm”, “in control”, “well” exterior to the world around us, even when we feel none of those descriptors at the moment. The pressure our culture has placed on us to present without flaws or challenges is real, and it creates delays in awareness. Awareness starts with us reflecting internally and opening honest dialogue first with ourselves and then with those around us we trust.
After years and years of watching people to recover, I know mental health recovery is possible. Mental health recovery is possible from even the most traumatic situations where it doesn’t feel like recovery is possible. Recovery always involves being honest about how hard our life is at a particular moment, and deciding to put the effort in to pull oneself back up again and again and again. This recovery, the one from what the world likes to call “rock bottom” is the most painful and powerful. In my experience we cannot achieve this kind of feat without help.
May is mental health awareness month, meaning we can’t just acknowledge the challenges for ourselves and others, we have to show up for our recovery and others’ as well. This takes time, energy, and compassion but pays dividends in return. We can do this as a community when we commit to one another’s wellness and recovery. It is my belief that together is the only way we will recover. That is why this is my chosen field, why I work so hard to be available for others and why I keep strong connections in my own personal life. We need each other to stay well, in May, and in every other month of the year.
- Get real with yourself about how you are really doing.
- Check-in, connect, reach-out, and find your people to get real with them about how they are really doing and how you are really doing.
- Step up your coping skills game. This means trying new and different ways to boost mood, reduce worry, practice self-care, set meaningful and important boundaries.
- Understand that you are not alone. Now, more than ever, is a reminder that all of us, under the wrong circumstances of situational stressors can be challenged by our mental health being compromised.
- Try your hardest to reduce stimuli that makes you feel worse. Pay attention to what you are watching, hearing, who you are calling, the messages you are absorbing
- Try hard to do the basics to give your body the best chance to regulate (food, water, clothing, shelter, and love).
- Remember, recovery is a part of the process. There will be a moment in time when it doesn’t feel this bad, and that moment is coming. Recovery is possible, its just not easy sometimes.