In January of this year, I hit a wall. Not a literal wall, but it was really an invisible mental barrier. I had a stuck feeling, and It was weird. It was something I had never experienced before and I didn’t know what to do to break it down.
When I mentioned it to my therapist (yes, I’m a therapist who has a therapist), we addressed it using a developed technique from Somatic Experiencing concepts that I learned about a few years ago. The technique helped, and my body started to become more alert and less numb.
Many humans, and our furry friends as well, are not doing so great these days. Some know that they are not okay, and some don’t. I believe that’s what makes adequate mental health a vital and underestimated need. The reality is that it is very difficult to see yourself the way that others see you. Generally speaking, understanding that you are “okay” means that the way you see yourself and your behaviors is how others interpret them. Being isolated from friends during the pandemic decreases social interactions and limits ways to experience how loved ones are doing personally.
Examples of How Others See Your Behaviors
- Let’s say you feel like you wake up in a relatively good mood and you are dancing around the house. You call your best friend, and they reflect you that you sound happy today or seem like you’re in a good mood. It’s possible that what you are experiencing on the inside and the corresponding behaviors that are seen on the outside just don’t match.
- The next day you feel like you wake up in a relatively good mood too. You walk to the bathroom like normal, brush your teeth and wash your face, as usual, to get ready for teleconferences for work. You then walk back to your bed and sit down and put your head in your hands. Your partner of 5 years asks you if you’re feeling okay, and you are immediately confused about why someone you love is asking you about your feelings because it’s clear to you that you’re in a good place. It’s possible that what you are experiencing on the inside and the corresponding behaviors that are seen on the outside just don’t match.
- Then two weeks later, you awaken after being stuck in the house for much of that time because of the increase in COVID-19 cases in your city. You grab your phone and start doom scrolling on IG until you decide to grab some coffee and a croissant to eat at the kitchen table. Your 2-year-old, who you don’t notice, runs to you for her daily morning hug. While screaming and throwing a tantrum, you say to yourself, “what is wrong with my child?” Without having your own sense of how you’re feeling or anyone asking you how you’re doing, your 2-year-old may have just reflected to you that you are not okay right now.
While the above examples may not specifically apply to you, they apply to millions of humans daily suffering in silence. They lack knowledge or support systems or maybe financial resources to help them see that they need help and are hurting. Here are a few ways to bring attention to this issue in your family or yourself.
Use Social Media
Right now, you can take a candid picture of yourself and post it on IG stories and ask your close friends to tell you what they see. You could hashtag it with #alleyesonMEntalheath. This is a controlled way to see how people you know see you, and you can also encourage them to do something similar. You could also do something like follow a mental health expert and comment on their posts with questions or like and share posts that could benefit your followers.
Yes, I know we are in the midst of a recession. However, there are fun and inexpensive ways to express in your attire that mental health is important. You could buy a T-shirt. You could purchase a pin to wear on your clothes or bags. You could buy a necklace or earrings that send a message about the invisible epidemic. You could also make your own accessories or paint messages on your clothing. You want to share your voice to encourage yourself and bring awareness to others.
Get a Mental Health Check-Up
Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to see how you’re doing. This is usually called an initial appointment or an initial intake and assessment. You can see your regular mental health clinician or find one if you don’t have one. Many mental health providers have been overwhelmed during the pandemic with new patients. You may not be able to find an appointment immediately. The other option is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or nurse practitioner. Once you schedule an appointment with a provider, be sure to talk about it during your next family zoom session or share it in your group chat.