Every May it is expected we acknowledge mental health in our communities–what it is, how we can identify it in others, and find help for them. We are to look out for our brothers and sisters and check in with our “strong” friend because some people are going through things they dare not speak about. But what about you? It’s not as difficult to see that something is off with your coworker, or that your cousin is acting strange, or even if your children are lacking something that you just can’t put your finger on. But, I consider it a disparity when we cannot pick up on these behaviors in ourselves. Mental Health Awareness Month is about more than just picking out that one person you thought was crazy and trying to diagnose them (I’m guilty of this!). It’s about learning the signs of mental health issues so that you know how to identify your triggers, ask for help when needed, take a mental break, and develop preventative techniques to get you through your next trouble season.

Identify Your Triggers

A trigger I have identified for me is not having enough alone time. Sometimes you need to spend time by yourself for a number of reasons. I take time to paint my toes, cook, read, work out, wash my hair, clean up, take long baths, watch Disney movies (guilty pleasure), and sit on my balcony playing the Sims (another guilty pleasure). The thing  is I really dislike doing these actions with other people, but I love doing them. If I don’t get the chance to do them, then it triggers my aggression, sometimes sadness and irritability. While I love spending time with my loved ones, I absolutely need that balance for my mental stability.

Ask for Help

I know we like to think that we are the experts at our own lives but the fact is we could all use some help sometime. I am the kind of person who feels knowledgeable about mental health, so sometimes I’m hesitant to talk to my friends when I’m in my head about something. I had to realize that just because someone doesn’t think like me doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I insisted that my friend go to see a therapist due to her past traumas and how she handles interpersonal conflicts presently. She has made a lot of progress by talking to someone who is close to her (me) and an unbiased individual skilled in restoring mental health (therapist). Seeking wise counsel is key, be it a professional or personal.

Take a Mental Break

Go Ghost! Seriously, it’s ok! Shut down the social media, turn the phone off, miss a couple of social gatherings and center yourself. No one is going to hate you for it. If they do, they do not care about your mental health! Sometimes I can honestly say I have episodes where I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m just not feeling anyone or anything. I have a few commitments on a regular basis and every now and then I dismiss myself. Once I have a handle on my mental state, then I will return and inform those who care about me that I just had to reset. You know what? They are fine with that! Your loved ones know you can handle it, but they will always show concern. I am constantly saying to my coworkers, “You can only do, what you can do.” Anything beyond that is a set up for being overwhelmed. It’s ok to check out just take the time you need and check back in.

Preventative Techniques

So this may seem like homework, but it is very beneficial. I promise! Think about the things you love most. These things can include, shows, movies, food, activities, places, people, etc. Now think about the things that cause you the most stress and discomfort. These things can be work, family, traffic, finances, health, weight, school, people etc. Think about how you can utilize a thing you love to prevent a stress and discomfort from interrupting your mental state. For example, I love music, long bubble baths, and Disney movies but sometimes work and traffic make me uncomfortable and stressed. So on days that I know I will probably experience this, I plan to ride all the way home in traffic blasting my favorite songs to go sit in my tub all night watching Disney. The next day I’m refreshed and ready to go! If I am really stressed, I like to go on vacation to a beachy area. Other techniques include going to church weekly, therapy weekly, or the gym daily. Whatever you choose, just remember it’s better to be preventative.

We all go through things in life, and they affect us in different ways. We have to learn not to be ashamed of that and get the help we need. If not for our own sake, for the sake of the next generation. Never think that you are alone even though I know it feels that way sometimes. There are resources that I will share with you. I hope that this was informative, and at the very least, I hope it helps someone get through a trouble season.

For Adults: https://hhs.texas.gov/services/mental-health-substance-use/adult-mental-health

For Children: https://hhs.texas.gov/services/mental-health-substance-use/childrens-mental-health

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255

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