May is our favorite month here at Doublesolid. It is Mental Health Awareness Month! The next 30 days are set aside for mental health activists and organizations to schedule events and activities to promote and publicize the mental health conversation. And that conversation is one of the reasons we're here!
We believe that talking about mental health makes it just another part of life. It's when you don't talk about it that you let ignorance, intolerance, and fear take over. In fact, we are working tirelessly for our inaugural event, "LIVE LIFE LOUD," a Variety Show featuring Doublesolid's Runway Premier- all to benefit NAMI NH to #getloudaf about mental health together!
Don't Take Mental Health for Granted
Some of us are born mentally healthy, and some of us have to work at it. But nobody should take mental health for granted, especially with what we have lived through since March 2020. It's not difficult to be caught off-balance, to let a bad mood turn into a bleak outlook, and to take up habits (such as substance abuse) that seem to restore the balance but actually put you on a downward spiral.
On the other hand, you can protect your mental health with healthy habits. First, you need to practice self-awareness. Like Lil' Mo Big World (featured photo), take a few moments to look in the mirror. If you understand yourself thoroughly and combine that with an understanding of how others perceive you, you can read the telltale signs of a loss of balance and correct it early. Second, you need to take care of yourself, which means protecting yourself from people and forces that seek to undermine your autonomy. Say no once in a while. Excuse yourself from toxic relationships- friends, coworkers, and even family, no matter who they're with. Let go of people that make you feel worse about yourself, not better. Instead, invite people who support you to thrive, grow and love. Third, help others when you can. It makes you feel good to help, and doing so connects you to people. Fourth, maintain your support network. Family and friends can be vital to your mental health.
Yes, seems easy when you list them out, but in all honesty, it takes a lot of work. But hard work is ok, especially when it leads to a better, happier, fuller life.
Healthy Living and Mental Health
The truth is that mental health is a critical component of overall health, and it is deeply intertwined with it. Just one example: depression is associated with elevated levels of chronic diseases, such as heart attack, diabetes, and stroke. Another example is chronic medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia which can undermine mental health.
As a chronic pain warrior myself, living with pain has been excruciating for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not being able to do the things I once loved (running, for example) has been a lot to accept. Sure, it may be temporary (over a year since I've run), but frankly, chronic pain sucks. And it weighs heavy on the body, the heart, and the mind.
I am fascinated by the strength of the connection between mental health and overall health because it saved my life. I was in severe difficulty a little over a decade ago. And if I hadn't attended to my overall health, I don't know where my bipolar disorder, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD, and conversion disorder might have taken me. But I know it wouldn't have been a good place. Thankfully, as I was coping with all my disorders and abbreviations, I decided to try running. So I laced up my sneakers and jogged out the door. Over the next several weeks, I became physically fit, and I realized I had found at least part of an effective treatment.
You know that the fitter you get, the better you feel. The better you feel, the healthier you become mentally. I am sure I'm oversimplifying the process here, but you get it.
Now, unable to be the physically fit runner and triathlete I once was, I have had to put my mental health first and find other activities to get the good hormones flowing.
Enter Doublesolid. Creating lifts my spirits. Sharing my story and my creations with others who understand is a feeling like no other feeling I have ever experienced. It connects me to the world, therefore helping me to feel an essential part of the community, just like you. I can't tell you how many people reach out to me daily with their mental health journey, and we share, then together we feel a bit relieved; and that's freaking awesome.
When we are derailed in our mental health journey, we have to switch gears and find another route to healthy living. By creating Doublesolid, I have opened up many doors; I have fallen in love with painting! Who knew! But if I had given up entirely because running isn't a current option, I'd only have gone backward in my mental health journey. So always take that time to look at yourself and do all you can to shift gears when needed. Your mental health is worth it.
Mental Health Awareness
But you can't get around the fact that mental health primarily resides in the brain, and the brain, like any other system in your body, depends on healthy inputs (oxygen, nutrients). Your health and fitness can dramatically improve the efficiency with which you can provide these inputs. Good health and wellness mean you process oxygen better and digest and transport nutrients better.
Go to the start line of any marathon or triathlon. You will find a variety of body types, a full spectrum of personalities, and a diversity of ages and interests. You won't find feelings of loneliness, uselessness, and shame. Those sorts of feelings are incompatible with fitness. But you don't need running shoes to get to the start and finish line. All you need is to look in the mirror and find what makes your heart feel full- and go after it! That same thing may not work a year from now, but that doesn't matter. Focus on today and how you can help yourself...today! Oh, wait, I have an idea!
Have a conversation about mental health this month. Fight ignorance, intolerance, and fear. And live your best — and healthiest — life.
Don't forget that we are continuously adding to our Mental Health Resources. Check them out for what may serve and support you and by all means, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have organization suggestions!