Healthy living #2 - mental health

One of my most read posts is about healthy living, which can be found  here. This was mostly about eating the right foods and working out to stay healthy (and happy). However, those two things will not lead to the ultimate health that you want. Another big aspect, which might be even more important than physical health is your mental health. Diseases that have to do with your mind can impair your life in big ways and many people are not aware of this. You might be having a hard time, or someone at work is affected by depression. The big difference between most physical and mental disabilities is the visibility of them. Your mental health is often not seen from the outside; family or friends may not know you are suffering. Sometime you are not even aware of your own state of mind. It can be years before you are diagnosed with bipolar or anxiety. When we don't feel well we often don't think that this has to do with our own mental health. However, sometimes we have to look beyond the usual headache.

Although not feeling well for some days doesn't mean you are suffering from depression, it is always important to keep track of your mental wellbeing. Especially when you are having difficulties doing things that were considered normal for you. It can take a long time before you notice you feel different. People around you might say you are more cranky or frustrated than usual. You are having trouble putting a genuine smile on your face or enjoy life.

Having suffered from depression and social anxiety myself, I can mention that it is important to talk to someone. However, talking about this when you are dealing with these issues, especially social anxiety, is not easy. Depression comes with shame and embarrassment. I thought I was a cry baby about it. I am so lucky with the life I live. I'm living in a peaceful country, I'm going to college,  have a wonderful family, money in the bank etc. Why was I feeling this way? I shouldn't be this sad, I need to get over this as soon as possible. A daily routine became putting on my fake smile as soon as I got up. But after a while I became aware that these were the same symptoms as I had when I was fourteen, and was diagnosed with depression. Long story short, I found a lot of people that are in the same place, and somehow that did not make me feel like I was crazy. Forums and especially the Tumblr community have helped me through a lot. So when you don't feel like talking to anybody, the internet has a lot of people just like you. I have gotten tons of support and loving messages, and couldn't climb up the hill without them.

When you are feeling down or sad for a longer period of time you should think back to when it all changed. Was there a certain event or moment that changed how you felt? Did it have to do with school, work, friends or family. The change in weather can also affect your mood(swings).

As can be read in some previous posts I am currently dealing with another round of depression. I felt like I failed at my university, and of thing lead to another. I am slowly crawling back up again, but it took a lot of time and strength. Why not share some tips for when you are feeling down.

This is probably the hardest part for me. Right now I am not going to school, have no job, and am all by myself. I am staying at my family's house and no one is at home during the day. This means that if I want to (and I really want to) I could stay in my bed all day. But in the back of my head I know this will not make anything better, probably only worse. Therefore I needed something to get me out of bed, even if it was something quite ridiculous. A tv program that I really like starts at 9.15, so this gives me motivation to get out of bed...sounds stupid right? But as long as it is what gets me up in the morning and it works for me it should be fine. So I have my alarm for 9 am and get dressed, make breakfast and watch tv. Around 10.30 I go out to walk for 30-40 minutes with my dog and when I get back I make coffee. This means that until lunch I have ''stuff'' to do, some kind of structure. After lunch I usually go job hunting online and look up something to do for the rest of the year. This is usually two hours, and at three I go out with the dog again. And this is pretty much where my inspiration ends..the last hour of the day I usually do some pilates in my room or watch an episode of friends, or start making dinner.
Again, when you are feeling down, no  matter how bad you want to stay in bed all morning, afternoon or day, best thing is to get up.

Being the biggest overthinker in the universe, one task that is particulary difficult is thinking of something else than my feelings. I start crying about little things, and try to not think too much (although impossible). Therefore, finding distraction can be so important. I try to plan little events that break my day. This could be going to some stores in the city centre and walk around. Visiting some family, going to church, anything that involves doing something else than hanging around at home. Being physically active can also help; it releases endorphins and will take your mind of your problems and feelings. If you need something to do during the day you can visit any organisation that can use volunteers. This might give your life some meaning again. 

Ask for help
Last but not least; you are not alone. Millions of people are suffering, mostly unknown by people in their environment. How many people know about your true feelings? Probably little to no one. If you are not feeling comfortable doing it person to person, many online forums and websites/organisations can help you. Even if it is just someone to talk to or share your frustrations. People are out there to help you, to care for you and listen to your story. 

And don't forget!
Don't feel ashamed, embarrased or asking for attention. People with mental health issues are one of the strongest people out there. They have so much strength and you should be proud of not giving up. We are here for a reason, but sometimes you cannot find your purpose. That is alright, nobody has life all figured out. When it takes an unexpected turn, it is not the end of the world, even though it feels like it. But remember, although you might not believe it at the moment, these times will pass. Time will pass. You must hold on and not give up. 

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