Friday April 6, 2018

Mental Health Matters

After a long hiatus, here is what I've learned.

This semester has easily been the most stressful of my entire college career. Earlier in the semester, when I was beginning to realize that my schedule was running me and that I was no longer running my schedule, I began to panic. I began to scramble and feel and lost, I began to overcompensate by trying to block off entire weekends, weeks, months to trying to get back on track. I thought, if I could just lock myself in my room for a week, I would get everything done. However, for anyone with a social life, a job that actually requires human interaction, and an obligation to actually go to class, that doesn't work. 

It's one thing to believe that you're focused, but another to actually be focused and taking care of your mental health so that you can stay that way

I can admit that I put a lot on my plate this semester. Not because I wanted to be drowning in work come April, but because I have a natural attraction to exploring all part of my brain at once as much as I can. I believed I could have balance, I believed that Google Calendar would save me. 

I was wrong. 

The only thing that Google Calendar did was tell me how much I didn't have time for, and I am someone who has an internal clock ticking all the time. Always on a schedule, always on an agenda, always putting pressure on myself to stay on track. I love having the freedom to explore the opportunity, express myself, and also branch out, but I realize that there was an overloading of experience that I hoped to have, and at this point, the ship is sinking, and cracking at the seams. What I was asking of myself this semester was simply too much. 

It isn't completely sinking, but it made me wake up. It made me realize that all of the unrealistic expectations that I had for myself were not working out. Something had to change, and it had to start with my mental health. It had to start with me taking it easy on myself, giving myself time to breathe, and truly sitting down with myself to realize what matters in my life at the moment. What comes first? What do I need a break from? Who do I need to reach out to for help or just someone to talk to? How can I not create the perfect storm for an anxiety disaster in the future? 

The answer at this point is self-awareness, which is essentially self-love. 

I needed a break from the outside noise, so I set aside blogging for a while, occasionally compiling thoughts and pieces that I can work on at my own pace.

I took a break from UD. I left campus as much as possible, just to get away, just to treat myself outside of the confines of what I am used to seeing all the time. 

I allowed myself to miss one BATU meeting, instead, I used the time to study, eat, or connect with my family back home. 

I had to become comfortable with expressing myself, saying no, and allowing my needs to come first. Outside of class, I need a mental health day where I allowed myself to reschedule a meeting during nap time. I used the time to catch up on sleep and to pray and meditate. 

Notice: a "treat yourself" day to me is not just laying in my bed for hours, it's taking the time to wind down, but also finding a way to build myself back up the next day--writing, reading, going to a spa, a brief workout, etc. That's "treat yourself" to me. 

These are small things that helped me to feel less overwhelmed at the end of the day, but the most important was hearing from my mother and father at home. They are so supportive of me in my spontaneous mental breakdowns, and I knew that if I just needed to call them to vent, they would listen, pray for me, and give me words of encouragement. They are my strong foundation when I feel weak. They rebuild me, make me stronger so that I can get through another day.  

Today, I feel that the end of this semester will be difficult considering the course load that I have, but I know that I can push through anything to be the best that I can be if I have a strong mind and fortified mental foundation. I'll be finishing out the year as strong as I can, and headed off to a wonderful, productive summer (details to come).

Until next time, remember, you are the steward of your mental health, but do not be afraid to reach out and ask others for help when you need it! Be kind to yourself, it is the greatest form of self-love. 

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