We don’t like to talk about it, but many people are dealing with it. Sadly, there’s a stigma paired with it, and although I wish the stigma didn’t exist, it does. The stigma of mental health. Now more than ever, I hear of people struggling with mental health. I firmly believe the reason for this is the pandemic. We are in and out of quarantine. People are having to be self-isolated. We have to constantly keep our distance from those we love. The politics are tearing people apart. And on top of all this, we are trying to keep up with school, work and life. We have so much on our plate. I know many people who are depressed. All of this is leaving them with no hope. I know people who are struggling with anxiety. Their to-do-list and all that is going on in the world leaves them anxious and overwhelmed. Life is weird and really hard right now. No wonder we’re struggling.

I wanted to write a blog over mental health because today is World Mental Health Awareness Day which is SO VERY important!!!! Mental health is an obstacle that so many of us face. I have faced mental health struggles on numerous occasions in my life. And I want to share one of my experiences so that you know wherever you are, you are not alone.

I’ve always been an anxious person. When I was only ten years old, I struggled to fall asleep at night. My mind was always racing and wouldn’t let me catch a break. When it got to the point where it was affecting the amount of sleep I received every night, my parents then decided it was time to try to find something that would help me. I went and had a sleep study done. There was nothing wrong. I went to the doctor. There was nothing wrong. Finally, they decided it might help if I went to counseling. And it did. I talked through my struggles, and that counselor helped me navigate a solution. Just talking to someone gave me the help I needed to eventually help me to slow my mind down and fall asleep at night. Overtime, my sleep was fine, and I quit going to the counselor. But as I began to grow up, I came face to face with another issue. Stress. Stress impacted my life in such a way, that the anxiety just came rushing back in. It’s as if it took over my life. The overwhelming feeling of anxiety was present in my life 24/7. The question of what if? never let me catch a breath. This consumed me all the way from junior high, through high school and even sometimes into my today. However, now I finally know the importance of getting help. For the longest time, I refused it. I told myself I was stronger than a little stress. But it wasn’t a little stress. It was a little stress that had welcomed in the monster named “anxiety”.. And I couldn’t face it on my own.

Mental health issues didn’t start with you and I. They actually date all the way back to biblical times. Take David for instance. He wrote the Psalms, and through these verses, we can see that David was suffering from a deep sadness.

Save me, O God,
    for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
    where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
    and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
    with waiting for my God. – Psalm 69:1-3

These verses reflect the dark place that David was in. He was depressed and had lost all hope in life. But something that stands out about David. He knew he couldn’t face this pain alone, and he was crying out for help from the Lord.

But for some reason, there is a stigma for getting help. People think it is a sign of weakness. But I’m here to tell you what you’ve heard a thousand times. Getting help IS NOT a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of STRENGTH. I cannot stress this enough!! Hopefully, if you haven’t listened to the hundreds of other people that have told you this same thing before, you’ll listen to me. I know this from experience. It took me all the way up to my Freshman year of college to finally realize that I couldn’t face this monster all on my own. I decided to take advantage of the free counseling we have at my school. When signing up, I felt like I was giving into weakness, but after a few counseling sessions, I felt strength. I was proud of myself for finally admitting that I couldn’t do it all on my own. I wasn’t weak. I realized it took courage for me to take that step, and I did it. If you need help, take the next step. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably told yourself that you’re making up your problems. First of all, you’re not. Second of all, you don’t even need a reason to go get help. Just having someone to talk to about life helps to relieve the pressure life puts on us.

After you finally decide to get help, one of the first things a counselor will usually tell you is that you need to take some time for yourself. I struggle with this. Ughhhh it’s hard. It’s easy to tell myself that everything else in life should come before me. I mean let’s take school for example. School is very important, but I’m going to be brutally honest. School is not everything. It is a blessing, and we should give it our best. But there are other aspects of life that are much more important. It has taken me a long time to realize that, but I’m so glad I have. We can’t keep allowing school to wreck our mental health. We need to work our hardest, but also realize that sometimes we need to ask for the extension on that really hard paper. Sometimes we just need to go to bed, instead of editing that assignment five more times. You’re probably not going to end up changing much anyways. Just turn it in, and get the sleep that your body needs. And quit stressing about how you’re going to get it all done. Everything always ends up working out. If you get a bad grade, shake it off. I promise it’s not going to matter a year later. When you mentally begin to let go of worries like this, eventually it becomes easier to take more time for yourself.

Go for a walk. Take a weekend (socially distant) trip with your friends. Go for a drive and sing at the top of your lungs. Take time to have fun. This helps boost our mental health. It reminds us that there is so much good to life. We don’t need to spend all of our time in life forgetting that we only have one life to live. If we do that, then we might just forget to enjoy it.

But don’t take just my advice on how to improve your mental health. Find what helps you to feel happy and better about life. I’m still learning. I’m at the point in my college career that life is just insane for me, and my mental health often suffers because of it. But I want to make it a goal to not get back to the point I was at in high school. I want to ask for help and find ways to enjoy life because I know these things improve my mental health. Do the same for yourself. Do a favor for the God who created you, and seek help, enjoy life, and find ways to care for yourself. God loves you immensely and wants that for you.

“Throw all your anxiety onto God, because God cares about you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

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