Are You OK? A Reflection on Mental Health
As a health and wellness practitioner, I always advocate for people to punctuate their mile-a-minute pace with intentional pauses and replenishing rituals. The on-the-go lifestyle is taxing—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.
In honor of a friend who recently passed and recognizing that May is Mental Health Awareness month, I’m pushing myself to share vulnerably with you. I was raised Caribbean Christian. In our community, discussing mental health is still considered taboo, and that needs to change. And it starts when we share our own stories of struggle and healing.
The past few weeks have been really tough. My friend’s passing triggered me. Even though I got glimpses of amazing happiness, fear of unpredictability crept in. I felt fearful and questioned my own state of being. When I ran errands or completed tasks at home, it felt like there was a heavy blanket slowing me down. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I couldn’t tell if my chest was tight from my shortened breathing or the aftershock from uncontrollable sobbing.
When someone close to you dies, it feels like the small pockets of sadness scattered in your body make their way to your chest. It starts to take up space and the more we ignore it, the faster it can grow.
What did processing and healing look like for me?
I needed to say it out loud. I needed to admit I wasn’t feeling like myself. I asked friends to check in with me. A simple text became a source of encouragement and affirmation. A care package was a reminder to carve out time.
I needed to give myself space. My husband lovingly reminded me that I deserve to take a couple of days to recharge in New York.
How else can processing and healing look like?
Track changes and progress. Pay attention to any bodily changes. Hormones and traumatic disruptions in our lives affect our bodies and minds.
Talk to someone. Therapists are here to help. They are trained and effective at helping people understand their experiences. They are equipped to guide people’s healing.
Consider group services. Financial access to mental health professionals can be a barrier, but there are budget-conscious options like group therapy. What’s important is seeking out support because no one has to ever go through this alone.
Learn more. Help and support are available. See this comprehensive resources list from Social Work License Map.
Mental illness is real, and we have to get rid of the stigma. Let’s figure out how to help people. It’s not simple, and I know that, but by opening up about our own lives, perhaps we can save someone else’s. I bow to the divine in you.