5 Mental Health Mantras
As a person who’s struggled with depression and anxiety a lot, I have some pretty strong feelings about May being Mental Health Month. About 80 percent of me thinks it’s amazing there is a month dedicated to opening more people’s eyes about mental health stigmas, resources, and treatment. The other 20 percent of me just wants to hide from the fact that this month highlights personal issues for me, and I’d rather lock it all down than talk about it.
However, I also know that when the part of me that doesn’t want to talk about it wins, I take a step backward in my journey with mental health. When something hurts, it seems natural to retract. I think people feel safer when they shut down, put on a happy face and pretend they’re not wounded. However, shutting down in the face of internal struggles doesn’t work. And I have to keep reminding myself of that every day.
Today Is Only One Day
I recently saw this on a sign outside a bank, of all places. What I love about this saying is that it works on two levels. If today feels like the worst, it’s comforting to know that it’s only one day. On the other hand, it reminds you that you only have a short time each day to do something important. Personally, it makes me appreciate the brevity of time and want to use it better. I’ve been repeating it to myself a lot lately.
Vulnerability = Strength
The thing that sucks about depression is that it thrives in dark places and grows stronger when you hide it, which is the usual inclination. It’s terrifying and sometimes physically painful or nauseating to bring an emotional concern to the surface and share it with other people. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a sign of strength because it shows that you have the courage to risk appearing weak.
You’re Not Alone
As a shy person, I already have a very small number of people who I talk to about regular day-to-day stuff. I frequently go through periods when I don’t think anyone would understand how I’m feeling. It’s necessary to remind myself that nothing could be farther from the truth. I have come to learn who my true companions are and I’m continually amazed at how great I still feel every time we have a deep conversation. Even if you haven’t found the people — or even the one person — who gets you, you are not alone.
Not Everyone Is Worth The Time
As a caveat to what I just said, I also learned that telling just anyone about my depression or anxiety was almost worse than keeping it to myself. When I was younger, I used to think that I could make a connection with everyone. I thought I could have something in common with anyone if I tried hard enough, and I thought that sharing my most personal feelings was a surefire way to get to that common ground I craved.
I’ve since learned otherwise. Being open about your mental health is incredibly important, but trying to connect with just anyone about it can make you feel worse. Your mental health is very personal, and I think it’s important to talk about it only with people you can trust to respect your thoughts and feelings. People who validate your emotions and honor you for sharing them. It’s nice to think well of people, but not everyone cares. Trying to share with those people can make you feel like your emotions aren’t important, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what you want.
You Are Loved
Opening up about something is scary no matter if you’re shy or not. We’re afraid that other people won’t understand, or they’ll change they way they look at us, or worst of all, maybe even love us less. I’ve been stuck in that mindset countless times. Anyone who makes you so afraid of taking off your mask that you don’t want to even try isn’t someone who deserves to know how you feel anyway.
I’ve stuck around people like this before, trying to make it work. I’ve even tried opening up to these people in hopes of making a connection I knew could never be there. These interactions left me feeling horrible about myself because it’s so painful to make the decision to open up about something only to have it go nowhere. It makes your problems feel insignificant and invalid, which makes you never want to open up again.
In contrast, the people who truly love you will never stop loving you for sharing your thoughts, feelings or emotions. These people will only love you more.
What Are Your Mental Health Mantras?
These are just a few things that speak to me right now, but my mantras are changing all the time. What mantras make you feel hopeful when you’re down? We’d love to hear them in the comments!