What to Do When Facing Mental Health Challenges
It’s “Mental Health Awareness Month.” It’s been observed in May in the United States since 1949. Whether you are a high profile public figure affected by mental health challenges like Pete Davidson of SNL, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Robin Williams, a brother, a daughter, a friend, a mother, a father, or a spouse in this month of increased awareness let’s really take care of one another.
My sister and I are sailing the rough seas of this with both of our parents, so the “awareness” is very real and very in our faces. We’ve been seeing our dad through his arduous journey the past 6 years with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia (what Robin Williams had). And now, our mom’s mental capacities have also been rapidly diminishing and are needing to be addressed very inconveniently in the middle of a pandemic and “Stay at Home”.
Unfortunately, this story isn’t unique. So many of us are going through a myriad of experiences like these whether on the inside of it and directly having have symptoms and episodes, or being the family or friends of a person going through them. I am filled with so much gratitude every day for the angel ER doctors and nurses, and Evergreen hospice workers who have assisted my dad in his recent surprising recovery from pneumonia, and everyone working around the clock at my dad’s skilled nursing facility. Their strength, patience, inner calm, and relentless on-the-job fortitude astounds me.
Current life circumstances with social distancing and self-isolation may be pushing on buttons that are the ones that usually flare for you or a loved one, or are on a slow-burn to a flare up, or are bringing certain tendencies and imbalances to the surface for the very first time much to your surprise.
People honking at each other on road in anger, arguing over “right and wrong,” shooting each other or breaking limbs over whether or not to wear face masks…we know it’s not about the masks. It’s what simmers below the surface that starts to burst forth like a volcano that we need to pay more attention to.
It’s the unresolved parts of ego, the unresolved past wounds, traumas, and conditioning that have us acting out specific patterns of behavior. It’s the cracks, breaks, and chasms in brain health and balance. It’s the energetic stressors of a particularly intense kundalini awakening (an energetic component of awakening of consciousness that affects the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of our lives).
When someone has fried out neurotransmitters and brain chemical imbalances (diagnosed or undiagnosed), every day stressors and especially in “uncertain times” when it’s an extra challenge to find one’s footing, can weigh heavily on the person experiencing strains on their own mental health, and on their loved ones around them.
They themselves, or others close to them may notice strange verbal expressions that “don’t make sense,” erratic and unpredictable behaviors that are “out of character,” ramped up risky behaviors (with drugs, alcohol, sex, breaking laws that endanger themselves and others), sadness and crying, apathy, depression, hopelessness, inappropriate/odd reactions to major announcements that "just don't fit the circumstances," death wishes and talk of wanting to die or planning it (always take this seriously).
If we are paying attention to one another, listening, and caring, we can often see the signs of mental breakdowns even underneath a “happy, I’ll get through this, I’m fine” exterior.
We can watch for: sleeping all the time, not sleeping at all, angry outbursts, switching details of stories, not tracking conversations, inability to answer questions, lack of interest in anyone or anything, complete overwhelm at the slightest of things, no patience/short-tempered, unusual weight loss or weight gain, dramatic swings from highs to lows (bold self-confidence to self-hatred), checking out of life through dramatic increase and reliance on technologies, social media, TV or gaming, excessive use of addictive substances, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or huge online purchases in order to feel better or have a sense of control in life, hallucinations, self-sabotaging work or relationships, etc.
There might be physical symptoms as well: racing heart, panic attacks, shortness of breath, a far off, sad, or crazy look in the eyes, excessive sweating, uncontrolled shaking of limbs, loss of balance, changes in vision, intense headaches, upset stomach and intestines, bladder infections, underlying allergies, etc.
That’s not to say that any or all of those things indicate mental unwellness. They may or may not. It’s always best to fully evaluate the landscape of a person’s life to see if there are extra stressors and extraordinary circumstances going on right now that might be triggering a mental health crisis in the short or long-term—a death in the family, loss of a job, a move, a worldwide pandemic and increased isolation. See if there has been a large, upending shift of one’s comfort, familiarity, safety, and security.
Doctors and other various skilled healthcare providers can do other checks of the body and brain. A full physical and blood panels can be run, MRI of the brain, etc. to gather more information and put together a larger picture to create a plan for treatment, stabilization, and relief.
What can help you or a loved one right now:
- Chew off only what you can handle today. Approach today in bite-sized pieces. This takes being real and honest with yourself and others. If you simply cannot do another thing—say so and give your brain and body what it needs. If that means saying “No thank you” and doing less, then so be it. Less IS more and can create space for an unwinding of the body's tension, contraction, and a revved up nervous system.
- Stay in touch with friends and family if that feels good. Have your truly unplugged alone time if that feels good for your own mental health and sanity. As a courtesty to concerned friends and family, it might be kind to let them know you need to have some time to yourself. Find your sweet spot of balance between outwardly social, and inner quiet time.
- Try new things to stimulate the brain, and also relax or energize the body. Try online classes of yoga, pilates, or Zumba.
- Exercise and move the body – this is so incredibly powerful on a multitude of levels. Boosting the endorphins and dopamine levels is a mood lifter.
- Watch YouTube videos on exercises to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
- Now is the perfect time to explore getting to know yourself better…..your own energy, wants, needs, and desires. If you’ve never prayed, chanted, done mindful breathing exercises, or meditated but always wanted to, now is the perfect time to begin and the world certainly welcomes more of that!
- Find a mental health professional to have virtual sessions with (until in-person sessions are opened up again) for support. It’s healthy to have your “you time” and have a safe space for your worries, fears, stressors, and to have guidance in healing whatever it is you wish to heal. We all deserve to travel lighter and freer, and feel as good mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually as we can.
- Regaining mental balance can be aided by whatever approach you deem is best for you. It could be from the East or West, through complementary or holistic means. We all are unique in our responsiveness to modalities and medicines.
- Lean into your community. Take that first step to reach out to connect with your fellow sports fans, knitters, sailors, hikers, surfers, pet lovers….whomever you consider “your peeps.” Let them know if you’re going through a hard time and let them be there for you. It can be helpful just to be reminded by friends that you are not alone. You might find that a lot of people are very sympathetic and understanding because they are either on that same path, or have healed from many aspects of the journey. It is comforting and unifying.
- Lean into support groups (online until in-person ones are available again) if it’s helpful to verbally process pain/anguish. Sometimes just having a safe place to speak out loud our biggest fears and deepest/darkest thoughts and worries takes some of the “zing” and charge out of them and makes it feel like they don’t have such power “over us” in our lives.
- Eat well. Use food as medicine. Try out green smoothies, berry smoothies, a paleo or vegetarian diet…whatever your intuition guides you toward that is most helpful and beneficial. You can feel shifts in the body and brain from changing the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of the body. Working on this as part of an over all treatment plan with a doctor or naturopath as a guide for your specific body based on actual testing vs. “one size fits all” theories will be most helpful.
- Nature. Always nature. It is a powerful healer and reset. Be with the water and the trees. Fresh air on your face and in your lungs, does the whole body and psyche wonders!
And, of course, if things are feeling very unmanageable and you need further assistance, please reach out 24/7 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1(800) 273-8255.
If I can assist your journey, please contact me here:
Every day, in every breath, there is always a reason to live. If you need help finding yours, please reach out somewhere to someone. There is always someone ready to assist your journey.
As always, please know how valued and appreciated you are for being here just as you are. No matter how you show up in the world or what has led you to this moment, you are as welcomed here and just as deserving as everyone else. You are loved whether you believe that or not. <3
And, in the meantime, here is something else to add to your self-comfort and self-care:
I’m so pleased to announce and share with you two BRAND NEW meditations you can enjoy daily. Whether you are an experienced meditator and just like “being guided by a soothing voice and music,” or are brand new to relaxing, unwinding, and being present in this moment, these are here to serve your journey. Please give yourself these gifts of feeling some relief, balance, and ease today: TWO NEW HEALING MEDITATIONS
Extra Support Here > 20 Immediate Ways To Stay Calm
Extra Support Here > Book a Special Circumstances Private Session
**Please hit the SHARE button for others so they can feel lifted up and supported right now. We all deserve more comfort and care.
I have newsletters going out every month. Have you signed up yet to receive the emailed goodies? Join our loving community for inspiration and my FREE "I Love You When You Are…" meditation to support you in a relaxed life of peace and well-being!