3 Things I Discovered on my Mental Health Journey
Full disclaimer: I am not a therapist or mental health professional. What’s written is strictly my opinion and not medical or professional advice.
When I was a child, I didn’t think about my mental health. If I fell and hurt myself, I’d cry, recover and move on. If I were happy, I’d smile, laugh and move on. I didn’t judge myself—I had bliss.
As an adult, things got more complex. I began to think about my life and formed opinions about it. Not only did I form opinions, but I also started to judge myself. I began to measure the quality of my life by my relationships, economic status, race, career, looks, and other people’s opinions. I grew more analytical, and that childlike bliss faded away.
Nowadays, my happiness and peace require more work to obtain. I must be intentional about doing what I love and protecting my peace. In 2020, my mental health wasn’t so well. I became burned out from overworking; there was a lot of civil unrest around the killing of black men and boys, and my wife and I experienced an early pregnancy loss. Furthermore, the pandemic started, and people were dying in droves.
My mental health took a massive hit, and I began to have migraines and anxiety attacks. I was afraid and didn’t know how to share it or where to get help. I started with medical advice. I went to different doctors to identify why I had pain in my head, and nothing came back. I finally connected with a good therapist and doctor, and they helped me create a plan to heal. On my journey to healing and recovery, I discovered three things that I want to share:
- Our mental health is grounded by our belief system and how those beliefs impact our lives. For example, if you believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect but experience the opposite—it could negatively impact your mental health. The co-founder of Riverside Recovery said, “The belief systems we carry with us into adulthood are often formed during our childhoods. We inherit them from our families. We develop them from our own experiences and unique perspectives.”
- Mental Health can be invisible. We can’t always see what someone is going through in their mind. This is why being curious is so important. We have to ask more questions from a sincere place to identify what those we love are going through. Asking questions and listening can make an invisible struggle visible.
- It’s okay to take medication. Sometimes, the side effects seem scary and can deter a person from committing to care. However, I realized a person would medicate one way or another. Finding a trustworthy doctor is key to excellent medical care.
These three discoveries have changed the way I approach my life. I had to rebuild a more sustainable belief system that would withstand the test of time. I chose faith, hope, and love as my core beliefs—instead of judgment, fear, and control.
Now, when life gets hard, I have hope and faith that things will get better. I believe God loves me; therefore, I can love myself and my neighbors. These three core beliefs will guard my mental health.
I’m still working on explaining what I feel. I’m learning to find the right words to describe what I’m dealing with internally and the emotions resulting from what I’m going through. I desire to make my mental state more visible. I appreciate having a curious wife that asks questions and a therapist who lets me say what’s on my mind.
Lastly, after experiencing multiple anxiety attacks and migraines, I had to take medication. It was a hard decision because I didn’t want to be stigmatized, and honesty, it made me feel incapable of overcoming my issues; however, after much prayer and wise counsel from the right people, including my doctor, who cared about my concerns I started medication. After a short period, I no longer had migraines, and the anxiety went away. I had to make lifestyle changes as well. It was a holistic approach that I took, and I feel like it was the best decision. I concluded that God created medicine and it can be a healing agent.
I am sharing my journey to help you make some decisions to address your mental health. It’s safe to say the pandemic has surfaced many mental health issues that needed our attention. We don’t have to suffer alone. We don’t have to be in pain forever; we can find a plan that suits us and helps us function and be well.
Here are a few resources I used and created when addressing my mental health:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple: 10 Strategies for Managing Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Panic, and Worry https://a.co/d/dr5V4sV
breathe.: a guided healing journal for black men https://a.co/d/bowBHAC
Be Kind To Your Mind:
Sound Mind: 5 Days of Prayer to Help Improve Your Thinking: