The Mental Health Ship

Oct 30

This started out as a simple instagram post but turned into so much more so I wanted to bring it to the blog where I am not limited to 2200 characters. Part 1 was posted on the feed so I’m going to include it here for those who haven’t read it yet. Followed by the new part 2! If you’ve already read part one, just go ahead and scroll down 🙂

Part 1

Can life be good if we don’t feel good? When circumstances are a shit show, can we still be at peace?⠀

I’ve shared a bit about my mental battles with depression and anxiety, & it hasn’t exactly been pretty. When things are bad, I shut myself away in the dark, eat and drink to feel any form of comfort, as well as ignore calls and texts. On the worst days, I’ve even wondered if I can go on anymore at all. During those times, I don’t feel safe driving to be honest, because a stray thought could send my giant, white truck heading off a bridge. Sorry if that got too dark, but it’s true and real and it doesn’t need to be hidden.⠀

There’s so much wrong with the world right now, so much causing fear, outrage, grief, disappointment, panic, despair, and loneliness. And if we tie our happiness to what’s going on around us, we’re doomed.⠀

Imagine your wellbeing is a beautiful, elegant ship, with masts soaring like trees into the sky and billowing sails like summer clouds tugging against them. If you tie this ship to a sinking vessel, chances are you’ll both go down. So on the days you feel you’re drowning, look at what’s dragging your mind and emotions beneath the tides, and work on cutting those ties.

Just like that grand ship, we are made to endure the storms of life, and no vessel can escape the wind and waves. Instead, we gather all we need while safe at port, so we have enough to sustain us during the long days at sea. But our bread and water is community and healthy habits for our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls.⠀

I get it. On the days you can barely make it out of bed, it sounds insane to talk about hopping on the spin bike, making a meal that will nurture my body, reading a self-help book, or meditating, much less doing all the above in one day. So I try to pick one, when I can. When I can’t, I try again the next day, or I just wait until I talk to my therapist for help when my ship is taking on water.⠀

You were made to endure this, friends. We were designed to stay afloat, even in the wildest of storms. ⠀
In the coming weeks, I’ll share what it looks like for me to enjoy the sun, learn from the storms, and how to sustain myself in either.

Photography by Woke Beauty

Part 2

In an Instagram post last week (I’ve included it above), I compared mental health to a ship, and life’s hard days to hurricanes at sea. None of us can avoid the wind and waves, but each of us can choose to prepare ourselves for whatever life throws at us, and learn how to be fully present no matter the circumstantial weather.

From my last five years of battling with depression and anxiety, I’ve learned there are four major ways I need to care for myself: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Think of them as tending to your sails, ropes, hull, and supplies.

Physically, I try to make the best decisions I can when I’m in a decent place, eating healthy meals with lots of protein and produce, attempting to cook when I can. I also work with exercise and nutrition coaches when I’m able. These practical decisions boost my serotonin and dopamine levels as much or more than the meds I also rely on to balance me out. It may seem obvious, but my body holds my heart and mind, so if I don’t take care of it, that compromises my mental health.

Mentally, I turn to my therapist or a good book to challenge me, push me to make tangible goals, and help me process. It can be tough to find someone you click with, but once you do, that person is a game changer in your self care. And if you need an amazing book to help you grow, I highly recommend anything written by Brene Brown!

Emotionally, I rely on my fur babies for cuddles and unconditional love, and I try to let my closest friends into my raw space for support. It isn’t easy, but I probably wouldn’t be here anymore but for a few loyal friends I think of as family. I’ve been in their weddings, attended their Christmas gatherings, and begrudgingly celebrated nearly every birthday with them (I hate my birthday. Don’t ask).

The last, spiritually, is the most complicated for me to address or describe, as my journey has been as turbulent as my mental health walk. Suffice to say, getting into the 12 Steps (like AA) two years ago was one of the best things I have ever done. I dove into everything I’m trying to control, where (if anywhere) I find hope, and how surrender can be the most empowering choice you can ever make. The people who worked through the Steps are still so important to me because of what we faced and overcame together.

Because I have these amazing people and tools in my life, I’m so much more self-aware than I’ve ever been, and all of this equips me to face the torrential downpours we’ve all been experiencing lately. Have I really taken advantage of all of this and stayed on top of these habits? Yeah no, definitely not. But the difference is that unlike the first time depression almost pulled me down to the bottom of the sea, I have what I need at my disposal to buoy me up and help me survive until I can get my feet back under me. What helps you stay sane in this crazy season we’re all in together?

Thank you so much for taking time to visit my little corner of the web!

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