This blog post was meant to be a detailed breakdown of why I chose to wear white shorts on a cold rainy Kericho day. I’ve had a change of heart after several incidences with mental illness as a subject matter over the past week;
- I came across a Humans of NewYork article detailing a mom’s helplessness as she experienced her grown son’s depression and her vulnerability linked to her inability to pull him out of it. (I have searched for this article for the past hour -simply cannot track it. apparently the HONY site has no need for the search function!)
- Several incidents detailing how the COVID-19 lockdown has triggered a sense of panic, isolation, fear, worry, and helplessness potentially triggering strong negative emotions previously not experienced
- I read an entry I made as I went through a period of utter mental breakdown. The anxiety was debilitating, the lack of understanding from my close friends was isolating, my inability to pin-point the trigger was overwhelming and it was all scary and very new to me – yet I felt the need to keep everything together (especially for work) despite my inability to.
I have a son so reading the Reddit entry obviously struck a chord. Having been crippled by anxiety in the past -I have a proactive approach to mental health.
Now, here is where I issue the disclaimer that I am obviously not a medical practitioner and only dispense advice based on my experience as I wrestled anxiety and panic attacks. If you are suffering from severe mental illness-please seek proper medical attention from a licensed practitioner.
This remains my take on how to manage mental health
Two years ago, I would roll my eyes at this. Sitting cross-legged and chasing all thoughts from my mind was my interpretation of meditation. Today, I interpret meditation as sitting with the mind to better understand thoughts and feelings. I have specifically been using headspace (a meditation app) and not to overstate this -it has been life-altering. The app is by Andy Puddicombe (the name makes me feel safe).
I am a certified cheapie yet I pay a monthly subscription of Kes. 1,300 for the app – trust me it is worth it (you even get a 15 day trial just to see how stuff works).
I have taken to practicing meditation with my two-year-old, he actually completes the minute-long sessions designed for kids. The app covers loss, patience, stress, sleep, loneliness, anger, focus, anxiety -you name it. Impressive and certainly worth a try
2. Get out of the house:
Hauling your self out of the house when feeling low (despite not feeling like it) is a winner. Walking barefoot and catching the sun does miracles on a bad day
3. Human contact:
A set of friends or relations with a limited ability to judge, solve and react to what you are feeling-you need ears and empathy-not opinions and solutions
4. Don’t stop being a kid:
Maintain a sense of curiosity and abandon by chasing after simplicity -finger paint, skip, color a drawing, cook, watch an animation. I consider this hitting the reset button
5. Darkness makes everything that much worse:
Try to maintain blinds only or do away with dark curtains, sleep with a night light or open windows. This was a gamechanger for me.
6. Write about your feelings:
A sense of release and perspective when you later read through your thoughts
7. Avoid dark shows:
I binge-watched a lot of documentaries around Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Gadaffi-witnessing the levels of human suffering, and lack of empathy depicted by these shows was a huge downer for me-not exactly the stuff you want to be mingling with when vulnerable.
8. Have greater purpose other than self….service to others
Visit a children’s home, volunteer in elderly folks home, donate to a cause you believe in-the perspective will potentially take the focus away from getting caught up in your person.
9. Seek help:
I remember not being sure how to go about this. ..So I will take the time to explain what is potentially obvious. Visit the hospital like you would if you had the flu, the doctor attending to you from any hospital’s A&E (accident and emergency)unit will likely refer you to a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist based on their diagnosis. It is pretty straight forward from here onward. You may alternatively opt to search for a certified psychiatrist/counselor through referrals or friends.
I probably write this more for myself than I do for potential readers-nothing is permanent; your current feelings, experience, the struggle…will pass. There is a constant blue sky despite cloudy days-look out for this.