I consider myself to be a mental health warrior. I’ve struggled with my mental health throughout my life and continue to fight every day. I recently experienced a difficult time in my journey and managed to work through my struggles by prioritizing my mental health. I’ve come back stronger and ready to help #EndtheStigma by sharing my story and what I learned.

In January of 2019 I hit a new low. I felt like I was living a fraudulent life and experienced an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I was out of touch with who I was, what I believed in, and what was important.

My low was a turning point for me and led to my decision to check into a mental health treatment center. At first, I was terrified. From admitting to myself that I needed help to telling my boss that I was taking a leave of absence, it was difficult letting go of my need to be “in control” and start the healing process. However, once I did, I knew it was the right decision.

During my treatment, I underwent a variety of therapies and took the time I needed to focus on myself. I had no distractions—no work, no cell phone, no TV. For the first time in my life it was just me and my thoughts. I admit that some days were harder than others. Fortunately, I was surrounded by people who supported me and helped me along the way. Over time, I learned how to love myself again and my mind began to feel clear.

I will say at times, I still experience difficulties. The difference is, that now, I understand the importance of prioritizing my mental health and taking time to check in with my emotions. I have learned to recognize when I feel like I am going down a negative path or feeling in a funk and have identified actions and behaviors to help me cope.

Here are four tools I learned from my experience that can help you prioritize your mental wellbeing:

  1. Meditation. Meditation helps me feel centered and focused. When I take time to pause and breathe, I feel much more in tune with my emotions and heart. I recently went to a meditation class and started crying unexpectedly. It was exactly the emotional release that I needed at the time and a great reminder for me to continuously check-in with myself.
  2. Support Team. Having a support system has been such an important part of my healing process. I have built a great support system around me — a therapist, psychiatrist, and life coach. Seeking help from a medical professional can be daunting, but it’s worth it to find the right support system for you. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help — we all need a little help sometimes.
  3. Vulnerability. Initially, I was hesitant to share my story with others out of fear. But sharing has helped me connect with others who have experienced similar pain and feel supported. Plus it inspired me to become a mental health advocate with UNCrushed, a platform for mental health awareness.
  4. Gratitude. It’s easy to get caught up in a “more is better” mindset. Taking the time to write down three things I’m grateful for helps me re-center and shift my mindset. I encourage you to start your own gratitude practice.

Above all else, recognize that your mental wellbeing matters. Making time for self-care and taking steps to prioritize your mental wellbeing is so important. Give yourself permission to try new things and pay attention to what makes you feel alive and keep doing them.

Link to original post (UNCrushed.org): https://www.uncrushed.org/content/2019/6/10/i-am-a-mental-health-warrior