Common Misunderstandings and Mistakes of Mental Health

What a strange and confusing time we live in….. no no no, I’m not talking about our president or the fact that people still use 3 in 1 shampoo, it’s time to be a little serious and talk about mental health. 

Mental health is an extremely broad topic and is one I honestly know little about. I have not taken a single class pertaining to it, or done a ton of outside research. By opening myself up to others and allowing them to open up to me, I have observed and began to understand a few common misunderstanding and mistakes we make as society and individuals about mental health.

5 Things to Change Macro to Micro

1. Open Up to Others and Let Them Open Up to You

       – Although I believe this is a macrocosm problem of society this is also a challenge to each individual. Especially males, I know that we have to be manly and as Bill Burr in F is for Family says “stuff it down”. Trust me when you allow yourself to open up about “why you never get out of bed” or “why do you not go out anymore” or whatever your ailment causes you to do. You will be amazed by how many people are dealing with the same problem and can offer advice or a helping hand. It’s the idea of the Shame Wizard from Big Mouth, he’s fucking with all of us. The only way we can try to stop it is to open up about it. If we can’t stop it at least we can complain together, as the old saying goes “misery loves company”.

2. Stop Confusing Stress with Anxiety

        –  This is one that pisses me off a lot. I constantly hear on a hungover Sunday, “I’m so anxious I have a project due tonight and an exam on Tuesday”, or “This game is giving me anxiety”. I understand many people just use this as an expression, as I myself have, but it undermines people when they truly express they have anxiety. When you are up to date on everything you need to do, have a clean conscious, and still feel that horrible pit in your stomach, that is truly anxiety. 

3. It’s not an excuse, It’s an illness.

        – Similar to my point above but a little more personal, way too often I hear people use their mental health as an excuse to be lazy or get out of commitments. Whether its out loud or as an excuse to themselves. I personally led a vicious cycle of telling myself that it was okay to lay in bed all day and then start to do assignments at night. Often, starting my assignments late, I would become overwhelmed which would cause stress. I would convince myself the stress was anxiety and believed if I stopped working and got a good night’s rest, I would work extra hard the next day. I never did, the work was now doubled from the day before and it only continued to get worse. 

         -Although I was struggling, “relaxing” never fixes laziness and stress, but I promise you after a while it did increase my anxiety and depression 10 fold. 

4. Actively Work On Yourself 

      -Without the feeling of accomplishment or a passion that drives you it can be a bitch to get out of bed because “what is the point”. To combat this begin to fill your schedule slowly tasks.. Whether this is reading a couple chapters of a book a week, going to the gym a few times, or something as simple as making your bed; these task will allow you to feel accomplished in your day. While you add these good habits to your routine, search for your passion. This passion will be your motivation to get out of bed, which is often the hardest thing to do, and allow you to start earlier on both your required and accomplishment seeking tasks.

5. Seek Professional Help

     – This is as micro as I can get, If you have reached out to people, kept yourself active and motivated, kept up with work to reduce stress and you are still struggling with feelings of dread, or bleakness please seek professional help. Without a strong support system in place, or from a build-up of repressed feelings, a moderate condition can quickly turn severe. 

P.S: The first rule of life-guarding is save yourself first. Often times we look out from the shore, at the ocean of mental health, we see others struggling to keep afloat. We quickly rush in without a second thought to help. As we swim out further we realize we forgot a flotation device, we trek onward because we do not want anyone to feel the pain we have felt for a second longer. As we look out further and further for people to save we lose sight of the water that is slowly enclosing around us. 

I challenge each of you to try to get back on land, if only for a few big breaths and go back out with your new flotation device. Whether this device is your new daily feeling of accomplishment, work with a therapist or prescribed medication. While using this flotation devices and adding more you not only save others from drowning but most importantly you save yourself.

P.S.S: As I noted earlier I know nothing of the profession of dealing with mental health but have created this list from stories and experiences. If anyone is having suicidal or thoughts of hurting themselves reading this please please please call: 

 The National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 

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