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Mental Health Check-In

Black Women

May is mental health awareness month and I decide to do a post on my personal mental health. During this pandemic, most of us are either quarantine alone or with family or a significant other. Even if you are quarantine with other people; I am sure that you have found time to be alone with your thoughts. This is the time to learn about mental health awareness and remember that you are not alone in this. So I decided to share my personal story on my mental health and how therapy has played a significant role in my life.

The Narrative of my Mental Health

When you lose someone important, who has made a huge impact on your life that takes a toll on your mind. I lost my paternal grandmother at the age of 16 years old. I thought the best way to get through the grief was to push through the pain. My normal routine did not stop because I lost someone. But something did happen, I lost an important person in my life and it was weighing on my mind. Two years later, I went to a therapist before I went away to college to prepare for my transition from high school student to a college student. In that therapy session not only did I get help with my transition but unlocked deeper emotions that were buried.

I did not realize the effect of my grandmothers’ death still lingered in my mind. I sat, in my therapist’s office and cried about my grandmother’s passing but also the emotional absence of others from my childhood. It was in that office my therapist told me that I suffered from depression and anxiety. For 18 years, I had bottled all my emotions and kept them to myself because I thought no one would sit and listen to me. Therapy started to become essential part of my last two years of college.

“Depression is a mood disorder that involves a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.”

Goldman, Laura. “Depression: What It Is, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Types, and More.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 22 Nov. 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8933.

My College Experience

Everyone’s freshman year is different and impactful as we step on our college campus for the first time. My experience was that I did not want to let go of my high school friends and be open to meeting new people. I realize now that was not the best choice but you live and you learn. I focused on my studies while changing my major about three to four times due to different factors. Some of it was mental, academically challenging, and my environment. I settled on my major being psychology which in different ways helped me with my mental health during college.

A lot of people say that you should not self-diagnosis yourself or use the things that you are learning medically to your own life. It was not until my last two years of college when my psychology classes got more intimate and deeper. These classes made me realize that you have to take your mental health, seriously. My depression and anxiety could not be pushed to the side any longer.

“The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

“Anxiety: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323454#what-is-anxiety.

The Breaking Point

I had a nervous breakdown along with an anxiety attack when my car battery died on me one day. My assumption at the time was that I had no one to call. I thought no one would be able to help me or come to my rescue. Luckily for me, I had a sorority sisters’ boyfriend that helped jump my car battery and was able to get to a mechanic to change my car battery. That experience, help pushed me to go back to therapy and focus on my self-care and stop neglecting my mental health. I started to see a therapist at the counseling center on the college campus. I was able to talk out my current emotions and the feeling of being alone while surrounded by 60,000+ students. Graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology has played a positive impact on my mental health and career.

College Girl with College Cap
College Graduation Ceremony- 2014

Adulting

After I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree, I decided to move to New York City from Miami, Florida. I have been living in New York for a little bit over five years. When they say, “New York will break you” believe them. New York broke me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically in the first three years of me living in the concrete jungle. I went through different life lessons of friendship, sisterhood, financial struggles, romantic relationships, and health scares. All of those things really broke me in the year 2017. It led me to find way back to therapy and rebuild myself.

Therapy, Today

I took this time of going back to therapy to put in the work to suppress my anxiety and depression to a minimum and learn how to deal with it at the moment. The realization that if I did not take a whole year to myself and really focus on self-love and care; then my depression and anxiety would have taken over my adult life. The tools and advice that I have learned in therapy have been so useful as I continue to go through certain milestones in my life. It was also about finding the right therapist which I finally found in 2018 and continue to see on a weekly basis. My therapist is one of my biggest cheerleaders and helps me come to an understanding of myself by digging deep and helping me become more aware.

I am not going to sit here and lie to you that I do not still have days were my depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. I have days were I feel that my depression and anxiety battle each other on whose going to own the day. You learn how to control them and put them at ease with therapy and therapeutic tools are given to you. I have also learned that journaling helps a lot in describing your feelings at the moment and releasing them. Releasing my emotions helps me from feeling trapped in a box. It allows my creativity to roam free and overall allows me to be happy and content.

Your Mental Health Tools

Here are some mental health tools that can be used while under quarantine and when this pandemic is over. In that post, I offer you resources in New York to talk to a therapist while dealing with the pandemic. As I stated above, I recommend journaling on a daily or weekly basis. You can also meditate and listen to healing music that includes different frequencies and sound bowls. This music can help with meditating, sleeping, and calming your nerves.

Share your mental health tools in the comments below. Thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable and open about my mental health. You can also email me at melanie@whatsnextmel.com; if you want to personally share your mental health story with me, privately.

On Key

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