Hello, everyone. ^_^

I hope you all are well in life, but if for any reason you aren't, I especially advise you to continue reading.

Today I will be covering an important, but often considered taboo topic: Mental health. There is lot of stigma that exists about mental health / illnesses, and they are often misdiagnosed or claimed to be "made up". A lot of misinformation, jokes, and even glamorization on such topics swirl around on the daily - making it that much more difficult for those who are legitimately suffering. Opening up about the subject can cause discomfort and judgement, but why? Don't people realize that our brains control literally everything we think and do? The health of our minds is vital. If there is something wrong in the central control system, then everything connected to that will experience problems as well.

I've had a long battle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I've overcome many, many trials and I've existed with a completely black void as my state of mind. It felt endless, but I continued my journey anyway for whatever reason. Through continuous effort on my part and support from my loved ones, I clawed my way out of the void into a healthier state of mind. I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel that wasn't a fucking train. And trust me, you'll find it too.

Here are some of the things I've discovered to be most helpful when dealing with those dark days:

1. Consider your basic human needs.

So, you feel like shit, right? Everyone does from time to time. It's inevitable, and all part of the human experience. The shitty feeling can stem from a billion reasons, but can only come from four sources:

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Body, Mind, Environment, and all of the above.

a.) Body. How well did you sleep last night? Have you eaten enough today? Are you well hydrated? When was the last time you showered?
b.) Mind. Are you worried about something? Overwhelmed by all the stuff you have to do? Are you angry at someone or about something? Are you upset about something?
c.) Environment. Where are you right now? What are you surrounded by? Who are you surrounded by? What places do you go to regularly?

2. Focus on doing what you NEED, not what you WANT.

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Don't forget to take care of YOU.

Identifying the problem is the first step to solving it. Even if you can't find the cause, just try a simple act of basic self care. Take a shower and put on clean clothes. Grab a small snack. Take a 30 minute nap. Stretch out. Slowly drink a glass of water. Even if you don't think it will make you feel better, just do it. Your body will appreciate it. With a well fueled, well hydrated, and well rested body comes a better functioning mind.

I know that some people struggle with eating and sleeping. If your basic needs cannot be fulfilled for any reason, something needs to be done about it immediately. Otherwise, nothing will really change. (I may write a separate article about dealing with insomnia and eating disorders specifically.)

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Stressed mindsets usually stem from our mind and environment. It's not so simple to just "change" your mind or environment all at once, so this one requires baby steps. Try checking one thing off your to do list. Just start on one and focus on it. Go to work / school. Get the groceries. Pick up the clothes and clutter scattered around your room. Do a load of laundry. Even try opening the blinds or a window. Try a ten minute walk focusing on nothing but your breathing. Call a friend / family member and ask about their day. None of these are exactly fun, but they're necessary sometimes. Don't think about how much you don't want to do these things. Just get up and do something. You will be rewarded by a small sense of accomplishment and that could motivate you to do more eventually.

3. Be aware of who you're surrounded by.

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Think about who you spend the most time with. Who do you interact with most? Who do you live with? Who do you work / go to school with? Who are your friends? Who is in your family?

How do those people impact your life? How do they make you feel on a day-to-day basis? What kind of relationship do you have with them? Do you think they are important in your life? Why? Do you think they feel about you how you feel about them? How do they treat you? How do you treat them?

These are some tough questions that require some thought for the best results. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself.

You don't choose who your family is. You don't always get to choose who you live and work / go to school with. However, you do choose your friends and the people you hang out with outside of work / school / home. You choose who you let in. You choose who you trust with your secrets. You choose who you go to for advice, and you choose to let their actions and words influence you or not.

How a person reacts to your negative emotions says a lot about how they truly feel about you. Who was there for you in your darkest moments? Who showed you they still cared when you weren't being that lovable at all? Who answers the phone when you call them at 3AM?

Surround yourself with people who lift you up, listen to you, respect you, and enable you to grow. Set boundaries and stick with them. Some people might not want to respect your boundaries and those are the ones you need to let go of. You might lose relationships in the process, and yes, it will be painful, but remember: You are clearing out the clutter in your life in order to make room for what really matters.

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4. Be aware of the things you tell yourself, because no matter what, you're going to believe it.

All of you have beaten yourselves up at one point over a mistake, failure, or even an emotion. Some of you are quite mean to yourselves, and please believe me when I say that regularly tearing yourself down is an extremely toxic thing to do.

Everyone has negative thoughts, but everyone also has the power to choose to believe those negative thoughts. If that voice in your head is calling you ugly, think to yourself, and tell that voice "Fuck you. I am beautiful." If it tells you that you can't do something think "I can, and I will." If you think you're fucked, like there's no way out, tell yourself "I will handle it and I will find a way." Over and over again.

Even if telling yourself positive things feels unnatural or like a lie, just keep doing it. Even if you feel stupid, you must push past that feeling. Just keep "lying" to yourself until you realize that you aren't lying. Your subconscious believes what it is told, not what is true.

5. Change requires consistency and repetition. No exceptions.

If you work out to get your body fit, you must continue working out in order to maintain the fit physique. Similarly, if you are trying to change your thinking pattern permanently, you will need to consciously manage your thoughts or they will become out of control.

Insecurity is natural in every human and we tend to believe the negative things we tell ourselves. Find what makes you feel good, what motivates you, and what you are passionate about. Be unapologetic about it.

Prepare to have bad days, fears, failures, frustrations, and negative emotions. They're all part of life, but you can't let them dictate it. Forget the pain, remember the lesson, and try again. No matter how many times you fail, you can always start over. Never let anyone, including yourself let you think that you can't.

6. YOU must decide what is best for you.

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Ultimately, you're stuck with yourself forever. Make sure you are someone you want to be around

Your friends, family, society, the internet, therapists, and doctors will all have advice on how you should deal with your mental health. You must choose whose advice to follow and you must decide how it makes you feel. You must decide what you're willing to put up with and what you aren't. Often, this is a lengthy process of trial and error. You'll know when you have it right though.

Be assertive about what you need. Nobody knows your exact situation, body, mindset, or feelings besides you. You have to be able to live with yourself. Just make sure your coping methods are healthy, and be honest with yourself if you have some that aren't. Everybody works differently, and it's okay.

Therapy, medication, exercise, conscious re-direction of thinking patterns, support groups, self-help books, and self care are all valid options for dealing with mental health. What works for some may not work for others and you may need to try different things at different times. Compare the pros with the cons of what you're doing and make as many changes as you need to feel better.

I hope that in every step of your journey, you are aware of your goals, dreams, and worth. Keep going. You are a work in progress, constantly growing, and that is beautiful. Life isn't easy for anyone. The idea is to make it worth it.

I hope this article has been helpful. I'll see you guys in the next one.

-Allissa 💙