Things I Would Tell My Younger Self – II (Mental Health Edition)

Hi friends! We’ve been MIA. No, there is no good reason behind that. A lot has happened – it’s already May! The end of May, if I may. Sorry, bad joke.

But it’s mental health awareness month globally. What better time than now? Amid a global war and the country being broken down into little fragments, to capitalise on the algorithm and talk about mental health.

I also want to preface by saying (and I’ve been prefacing a lot because well, I just have a constant need to justify everything I say and do) that just because I am talking about mental health and have mental health illnesses that still help me function ‘as per normal’ it doesn’t mean that I’m an expert on the subject. I’m an expert on how I feel what I feel but that’s where it ends.

Simultaneously, you don’t have to suffer from mental health illnesses to be a mental health advocate. And if you are not doing it for the algorithm, you don’t have to wait for mental health awareness month to talk about it.

But now that we’ve cleared that, here are a couple of things I wish I knew about mental health and everything involved earlier on.

I’m also keeping it in point form to keep myself from breaking down (literally) and straying away from my initial trains of thought.

  1. It’s okay to know what you don’t want no matter how old you are. I’m not saying this as a millennial who wants to be vocal about all rebellious thoughts, but it is okay to know what you don’t want.
  2. It’s also okay to do something different at some point in your life and move away into an entirely new circle, job, country, or continent (hopefully in future, the planet too).
  3. It’s okay to move away from relationships (romantic or otherwise) and people who make you feel less. That makes you feel unworthy. Ones that don’t take the time to understand what might be going through or how to deal with what’s going on with you.
  4. It’s okay to have functioning mental health illnesses and continue doing what you do and on a random day, in traffic, when you pull over to cry all of a sudden and then once you’ve gathered yourself to go back to that meeting and continue doing what you were supposed to do and never reflect on what happened during traffic until many years after. Phew. That was a long sentence. Sorry if you read that in one breath.
  5. It’s okay if how you deal with grief is much different to others. It’s okay if you don’t cry or feel sad at the time of the event be it the death of a loved one or heartbreak. It’s okay if this happens a year from now where you lock it away for safekeeping because you know that you will build the energy to deal with it then.
  6. It’s okay if you are someone who deals with all sorts of grief much later in life that people call you a tough cookie, heartless or even amazed at how quickly you’ve “moved from your grief”. I’ve spoken about grief in detail earlier too and not much has changed since how I felt in 2018. You make your grief a part of your everyday day to day like your mental health illnesses and you go on with everything you got to do until you are ready to deal with it. Yes, it’s okay to sweep it under the carpet.
  7. It’s okay to seek help in the form of medication or therapy. If it makes you feel better go for it. It’s okay if you don’t tell anyone else about it if you choose not to.
  8. Please remember it’s okay to set boundaries for yourself. With people, with situations or in uncomfortable environments. It’s okay if this takes some trial or error, you will get there. It’s okay if you are easily overstimulated in certain environments or say when someone throws you a surprise birthday party. It’s okay to react ‘badly’ to surprises. Explain to those around you why you don’t like certain things being the way they are and explain your boundaries.
  9. If you can, try to identify your triggers. Be mindful of your behaviour, your eating habits, sleeping habits and exercise. For me, and a lot of people, the deterioration of one or more of these factors can cause triggers to intensify and for you to spiral. It’s easy to spiral in present circumstances as we are in May 2022, but understand your triggers and work on either resolving them or keeping them at bay. Whatever works best for you.
  10. Finally, I want you to know, if it makes a difference, that you are not alone. Even during times when isolation hits hard, and all you can think of is abandonment, heartbreak, people leaving you, nothing going right and not knowing what happens next, just know this – there are a lot of us out there, whom we don’t know, who go through some degree, more or less or similar of what you are going through now. It’s not to trivialise but this is temporary. This will pass if you allow it and if you seek help.

If you are someone reading this who finds this absurd or who doesn’t have a lot of understanding of mental health and mental health illnesses or is someone who isn’t diagnosed with any, I just want to tell you that to me, you are hope. You are a group of people that I know that I can aspire to be, that I can hope for some time in future. If you can, take time to read a few articles or talk to someone with mental health illnesses, if they are up to it, about what it feels like. The more you talk, the more you will be able to understand just how much there is to unpack here. It might also help you realise that not everyone who looks seemingly ‘okay’ or ‘put together, actually has their shit together.

I know this was a real cringe for some of you, but it’s been on my mind a lot, more than personal finance. Thanks to those who stuck around, and read these blogs even when blogging is not popular.

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