I’ve written before about the effect that holidays can have on our mental health, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Loneliness, isolation and depression are common feelings this time of year, and even though the causes might be different than other times of the year, those feelings are persistent. Whether you’ve been through a breakup or are frustrated by past disappointments in your love life, the feelings that come up can be very difficult to manage. Managing difficult thoughts and feelings is central to mental wellness, and even though it’s difficult to view it through a mental health lens, addressing these feelings in a healthy and natural way is important for us to heal. It’s also a way that we can properly feel the anger or sadness that we rightfully deserve to feel without letting it derail us on our mental health journeys. Here are a few ways to specifically manage those feelings this Valentine’s Day.Continue reading
I didn’t publish a post last Thursday, and that wasn’t planned. As someone who calls the DC area home, last week was extremely difficult to stomach. This week (and likely the weeks to come) will be difficult as well. I’ve been in and out of a fog, I’ve had trouble focusing on things and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out where my head’s been at. I know I’ve posted reminders about self-care before, but this moment felt different to me. It still does, and I have a feeling that might continue going forward. In these days and weeks ahead, prioritizing our mental wellness should be a top priority. Here’s why.Continue reading
This week has been mentally exhausting. You could argue that the month of November was pretty exhausting, or that 2020 as a whole has tired you out mentally; both would be true. But what has made this week such a mental workout for me is that I’ve bounced back and forth between joy and sadness, hope and fear, optimism and pessimism. Very good things have happened this week (hopefully I can share more next week!), and the result could be more positive change in my life. But the reason that I’ve been bouncing back and forth between positive and negative feelings this week doesn’t mean I’m not excited at these opportunities – in reality, I’m extremely excited. But adjusting to new things, even positive ones, means I’m taking on an opponent I know all too well – those feelings of worthlessness that can have a huge impact on our mental health.Continue reading
Words have always been an important way to tackle the topic of mental health, but sometimes it’s difficult to turn the lens directly on us. The words we use to describe our own mental health, our own personality even, are extremely important. They impact how we view ourselves and the world around us, and which impact the choices we make and things that we do. But in order to improve our mental health vocabulary, we must be aware of how what we’re currently doing, which is where the Mental Health Self-Assessment comes in. Welcome to Part One of this post – Vocabulary.Continue reading
One of the most common symptoms of clinical depression and other depressive disorders is feeling worthless. I’d delve more into why this happens and how this affects people, but that’s not my main point today (though I have written before about recognizing the signs of depression).
The symptoms might be similar, but each person’s experience with depression is unique because of their personality and life experiences. You and I might both be feeling worthless right now, but the way it manifests itself in our daily lives could look extremely different. However, there’s one important aspect of this struggle that is overlooked, underrated and 100% true: your experience – whatever it is – is worth something.
I don’t really like myself. That is not a put down, that is not a criticism. That does not mean the world, or my world, is ending. That is just what I believe.
I absolutely love live music. I’m not the most musically proficient person (I played the saxophone in middle school and sang in a boy choir until puberty hit), but something I discovered when I reached adulthood was that I love going to live shows. Since a majority of the bands I like are smaller acts, that meant I was hitting small clubs and intimate venues in tons of cities listening to my favorite bands and songwriters.
I’ve had different concert buddies over the years, but there have always been people willing to go see shows with me. One constant concert pal is Kevin, who I’ve seen tons of shows with. We had a particularly crazy stretch where we saw three concerts at three different venues over the course of eleven days. And it ROCKED.
It’s hard to describe what going to a live show does for me. I think the biggest thing is that, for a few hours, it seems like nothing else matters. It’s just me, the people around me, and the band putting on their show. Everything else takes a back seat. All my problems and worries are set to the side while I immerse myself in the music.
An annoying symptom of depression is that sometimes you don’t enjoy things the way you used to. Over the years, that loss of joy has happened with a lot of things. I have fought to enjoy things I once loved, and don’t enjoy certain activities quite like I used to. So when I do find something I love to do, I hold on to it as tightly as I can.
We all have things we love to do – activities, pastimes, whatever you want to call them. There are things out there that make us feel alive, at peace, content – happy. Oftentimes, after we do those things, we think to ourselves I should do this more.
And you’re right. You should. Not just because life is short and you should make the most of your time (though that is a good reason), but because you deserve it. You deserve to do the things you love because it’s another reminder that you’re a human who loves things – just like everyone else. We all deserve it. So what’s stopping you?
I love to travel, write, and see live music. What are the things YOU love to do? Let me know in the comments!
If you Google the question ‘should I care what others think?’ You’ll be flooded with tons of different articles. Some consider the question, but most of the results are listicles about not caring what other people think. For some, it’s a life hack. For others, it’s a motivational technique. Lord knows the Huffington Post has done a piece or two on it.
Honestly, it’s a nice message designed to help people feel more positively about themselves. But what if you aren’t so kind to yourself? What do you do then?
I used to tell myself that it didn’t matter what people thought of me, only what I thought of myself. If someone didn’t like me? Oh well, their loss. If someone made fun of the way I looked or acted? It didn’t matter, because what they thought about me didn’t matter as much as what I thought about myself. And this philosophy carried me through most of my childhood even though I was ignoring one crucial element of my mindset – I didn’t think I was all that great.
It wasn’t a big deal at first but as my mental health worsened and my opinion of myself sunk lower every day, I contemplated why I never cared what people thought. What was my reason? I talked to some of my friends about what they thought of me as a person and – since they were my friends they might have been biased – I was told that all in all, I’m a pretty decent person. But that didn’t matter to me.
I realize this approach of not caring what people think is to combat people’s negative opinions more than their positive ones, but I don’t think that distinction is made often enough. No, you shouldn’t care what others think of you if they think negative things. But if someone thinks you’re great? That you’re a special person, and you’re perfect the way you are? Embrace that. Don’t forget those things that people say about you that are good. Because on those days when you aren’t feeling so great about yourself, when you’re struggling with self-doubt and self-worth, maybe you won’t have to only rely on what you think of yourself to get you through that difficult time.
This is very much me talking the talk when I should be walking the walk (and I’m sure my friends and family tend to agree with that), but I think that even if this isn’t always achievable, it’s still something we can strive for. So yes, you shouldn’t always care what people think. But there are people out there who think the world of you; it can’t hurt to give them a listen.
Whether I’m in a funk or not, I ask this question fairly often: are things ever going to get better? Whether it’s something good or bad, I tend to ask this question after big events or moments in my life. To me, things can always be better because – whether or not good things happen to me – I’m usually too sad, tired or anxious to see the good things happening around me, so by that logic they can always be improved.
It took me a long time, but I finally stopped asking that question when it occurred to me that it didn’t matter how things were, or how life was going. What mattered was how I felt about those things, and how I felt about life. And there’s where I realized there was a problem. I wasn’t asking are things ever going to get better; I was asking, am I ever going to get better? And that’s the real question that scared me.
One of the first times I was in a psychiatrist’s office they told me I might not ever get better. That it was a possibility that I would have to live with this for a long time. That some people deal with their depression better than others. Granted, this was because I pressed them on these subjects and wanted their opinion, but the reality of the situation was heavy. I might not ever be 100 percent healthy again.
Five years after that conversation, I’m still not sure. But I am able to discern the stark difference between my mental health and the external things in my life. I’m able to stop asking if things are ever going to get better because I recognize that I have some power over those things – maybe not the power to overcome them all the time, but the power to fight back.
No, you can’t win every battle with mental illnesses that you have. But you can live to fight another day, and sometimes that’s as good as winning; on occasion it’s even better than winning. Because you know things will get better, because they can start and end with you. And let me tell you something friends, that’s a feeling unlike any other.
*Note: this post is based on my own experiences and opinions – not facts.
Self-esteem and self-worth are often used interchangeably or synonymously when people are asked how they feel about themselves. I’d like to offer up another point of view, which came after realizing my high level of self-esteem – and my shockingly low level of self-worth.