I have met a lot of people who want to take care of their mental health, but aren’t sure where to start. Unfortunately, it’s not something we learn about in school. Even in my AP psychology we didn’t learn how to care for ourselves. We learned about different “disorders,” but never learned how to help care for our mental health.
Before I share how I got into taking care of my own mental health, let me just make note that I am not a professional. This is just from my experience. I’m going to speak briefly on my journey and then I’ll put together a list of stuff that helped me understand a little bit more about mental health because lets be real, a lot of us aren’t going to get a degree in psychology, but we can still learn about it to help ourselves and others.
No one ever taught me about anxiety, which I think is pretty common, unfortunately. It was around 8th-9th grade where I first felt like I was actually depressed. I didn’t tell anyone, though. I just pushed through day by day. I didn’t know what else to do. It was my freshman year of high school that my mom said it sounds like I have anxiety. I had no clue what that was. BTW, It’s totally okay if you don’t know what anxiety, depression, or anything else I mention is. It’s also okay if you’re not sure if you struggle with it. You’re definitely not alone. If you’re unsure, I would recommend talking to a doctor. Your doctor can usually link you to a psychiatrists and a therapists and they can offer a lot more information and help when it comes to our mental health.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I started turning things around and I began taking care of my physical health which helped me with my mental health. I was reading a lot about health in general. There will always be ups and downs, though. You can be doing everything that’s recommended and still have really tough moments or days. I still continued on my journey to understand my mental health. I started therapy going into my junior year after I was diagnosed with OCD and depression. My therapist helped me learn techniques for when I felt anxious. I was also trying to find the right antidepressant for me. (For more about my journey with anti depressants check the links at the end) My junior year was when I took my psychology course where I learned so much about the brain and how it develops or how trauma and neglect can affect it long term. Overall, my junior year was big for learning more about my own mental health.
My senior year was HARD. My home life felt like it was crumbling. However, I hated being at school more than I hated being at home. It was a really tough year mentally for me. I continued antidepressants which helped control my anxiety and I was still going to therapy every other week. The following year I stopped therapy, which I talk about in another blog post that I’ll link at the end as well. I was in a really good place mentally and I remained there for a while.
Last year was a hard year in general, but my home life was really struggling. I moved out onto my own, which I know is not an option for everyone, and got back into therapy. I still go to therapy today. I read a lot of articles and books. I watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, talk to my therapist, and talk to other people about their mental health journey. I just want to be able to help others during their journey because it’s always nice to have some guidance when it’s wanted. Also, we are not perfect and the same things don’t work for everyone. So, if what helped me doesn’t help you, that’s okay! Don’t give up on yourself.
What helped me:
- Books. I haven’t read as much as I would like to. It’s really hard for me to read non-fiction. I like to listen to books because I think it can be easier than reading sometimes. I also like to highlight things that speak to me. Some books I have read or listened to and books that have been recommended to me are:
- The Body Keeps the Score
- The Highly Sensitive Person
- Adult Children of Alcoholics
- The Alchemist
- Atomic Habits
- The Power of Habit
- 12 Rules for Life
- Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents
- Who I follow on social media:
- Gottman Institute: advice about relationships backed by research
- Micheline Maalouf: an amazing therapist that I came across on TikTok but she’s also on Instagram
- Dr. Courtney Tracy: another therapist I found on TikTok that is on Instagram as well and has a show called The Truth Doctor Show
- The Self Care Space: it’s an affordable option for self guided mental health care where you also have the option to connect with others. I believe at the moment it’s exclusive to females, but I’m not 100%.
- Journal. I’ve been doing some shadow work journaling. Sometimes I don’t have anything to say for certain journal prompts. So don’t put pressure on yourself to have an answer. If the prompt doesn’t apply to you, move on. If you’re not ready to answer the prompt, move on from it. Come back when you’re ready.
- Meditate. Meditation is something I am still working on making a habit. It is helpful in bringing me to a calmer state especially when I’m having particularly bad anxiety.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do all of these or even one of these consistently. It’s a journey. There’s no deadline. Learning more about your mental health is a journey. I’m learning more and more all of the time. We are not meant to be “perfect” human begins.
- Call your doctor! It is NOT easy for everyone to make these phone calls, make appointments, and then show up. I know a lot of people who get so anxious about going to therapy that they will cancel last minute. If you think that you might be struggling mentally, or have gone through trauma that you haven’t worked through. Or if you KNOW
If you have other recommendations please let me know in the comments!