Mental Health Uncensored

I won’t worry about it, I will be fine,” Said no anxious person ever

  • Depression: “A mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.” –Oxford Living Dictionaries
  • Anxiety:A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome” –Google
  • Panic attack: “A sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety” -Google

On our bad days we often venture to the internet in a quest to find out what’s wrong with us – this often leads to the all too common “google diagnoses” which aren’t always perfectly trustable. When it comes to mental illness, definitions can be a bad thing. Summing up the wide array of emotions of disorders such as depression can easily lead to the condition itself seeming completely alien, even to someone who is genuinely depressed.

Above, you see the internet’s opinion on the common mental illnesses known as anxiety and depression. In this article, we’re going to show you what we think.

The Slightly Problematic Effects of Emotions

Unfortunately, we as humans experience emotions which aren’t necessarily a ray of sunshine. These negative emotions, more often than not, result in public tears, very inconvenient panic attacks, and existential crisis.

So, in the words of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Rosa Diaz: “It’s very embarrassing having feelings,”

When you’re already at the verge of breaking down it’s easy to be pushed over the edge by the sheer knowledge of everyone around you seeing you so fragile and vulnerable. In the process of struggling not to cry and swallowing that lump at the back of your throat, it’s easy to make things worse through desperate attempts of forcing back whatever you’re feeling. We’ve collected a few tips and tricks for in-the-moment exercises that are simple yet efficient when you have to deal with sudden, overwhelming panic or anxiety attacks.  

1. Breathing² – or “fyrkantsandning” in Swedish. Sounds ridiculous, is actually quite useful and works for a lot of people. Inhale deeply→, hold your breath for 5-10 seconds↓, exhale←, hold your breath again↑, and repeat. Doing this can both calm erratic breathing and force a sort of “system reboot” which could help you calm down.

2. Five Things – In your head, count five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Again, this forces the aforementioned “system reboot” and is found very helpful by many.

3. Music – You can either just put on your headphones and blast your favorite song, or take it one step further. Try to distinguish the beat, the different instruments, the melodies, and the lyrics. Yet again we’re forcing that same system reboot.

Conclusion: distract yourself and breathe. Easier said than done, unfortunately.

Note that different strategies work for different people – find one or multiple coping methods that work for you.

Connections Between Physical Pain & Mental Health

(Because having emotions isn’t enough)

For most people, it’s very obvious that banging your head against a wall multiple times will eventually give you a headache. It’s common sense, but physical pain isn’t necessarily a result of unwise physical violence. Sometimes, it’s emotional violence instead.

As an example, take your stomach, which is dependant on enzymes and hormones in order to break down food. Mental illness can quite easily disrupt the levels of hormones and thereby affect your stomach negatively. Other physical symptoms caused by mental illness can include aching in body and joints, nausea, fatigue, and so on. More often than not, physical pain as a result of mental pain is an outlet  for emotions that have been contained for too long.

It’s worth taking a moment to explore your own symptoms, one day it might help you recognize a bad day. Realizing that you are in fact having a bad day can justify feeling extremely tired, not studying, and so on – it can eliminate potential guilt over neglecting to do such things. The bottom line is that sometimes we have bad days, and on those days it’s okay to not do anything. Just because the pain is caused by emotions, said pain isn’t “all in your head”, it’s very real and you’re entitled to have it recognized.

 

Tip: HSP (highly sensitive person) is a characteristic that can sometimes result in some individuals being prone to anxiety and/or depression if living under certain circumstances. Below we have a few traits of HSP persons as well as a link to a test put together by Elaine N. Aron who’s done extensive research in the subject  –  knowing if you’re an HSP can sometimes help you understand yourself better, and how to cope with certain negative effects as well as recognizing the positive ones.
  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
-Elaine N. Aron
HSP test: http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/

Three truths about mental illness

And some quotes about water

“I’m scared to get close and I hate being alone

I long for that feeling to not feel at all

The higher I get, the lower I’ll sink

I can’t drown my demons, they know how to swim,”

-Can You Feel My Heart, Bring Me the Horizon

 

“I’m drowning,

and you’re standing three feet away

screaming “learn how to swim”

-(C/J)

 

“You can’t tell someone to stop being anxious,

that’s like telling the ocean to stop being wet,”

-Unknown

In conclusion, struggling with anxiety and/or depression can be compared to drowning, which is why quotes relating to this issue often mention such things and similar.

There’s no “right or wrong” when it comes to mental illness. Every human is equipped with their own personality, these issues aren’t just connected to that but to our biology, the way our brains function. One definition cannot be applied strictly to everyone, and just like that there’s no universal solution.

1. A realistic mindset is ideal

Unless you’re psychic, which we highly doubt, never tell someone struggling with anxiety that “everything is going to be fine,”.  Pessimism and/or optimism can sometimes cause unrealistic expectations with a negative backlash. It can either be studying too little, convincing yourself you’ll be fine, not reaching your own expectations and then feeling guilty and bad over not studying enough. It could also come in the form of studying more than enough, expecting failure, achieving a desirable grade, and then feeling bad for stressing over nothing.

This is why it’s ideal to be realistic.  

Plan ahead, follow said plan (this step is essential), and set up realistic expectations for the result of said planning. If you haven’t studied enough, familiarize yourself with the thought of getting a corresponding grade so that when it does happen you’re not surprised and overwhelmed by a sense of failure. Either that, or you get a better grade than expected and can be pleasantly surprised by that success. Have backup plans, accept your limits and maybe you will one day find it within yourself to no longer be traumatized by unexpected failure – instead you may learn from it.

Of course this isn’t a foolproof plan, but teaching yourself to be realistic can be extremely helpful when attempting to reduce sources of anxiety.

2. You have to accept reality yourself

There’s a reason as to why quick fixes never actually fix anything.

The problem isn’t that we don’t know that “everything will be fine” it’s the fact that we don’t accept it.  We know that “it’s not the end of the world” but it may feel like it nevertheless.

In the long run, no one can help you but yourself. It may take a lot of time and a lot of pain and struggling, but the end goal is to one day accept reality all by yourself and realize that maybe some of the things you expect from yourself are completely unrealistic. You will have to tell yourself, over and over again, that you cannot do better than your best – and if you have anxiety or depression then sometimes you may be unable to get that precious A – and that is fine. That, is the reality you have to accept. Not just with grades, but with everything.

Your best differs as swiftly as your mental health, you might perform better today than tomorrow – you may have all the knowledge required but you may also lack the ability to organize it.

3. It’s okay if all you did today was breathe

Anxiety tends to leave scars, and sometimes we have to accept that those scars might remain sore for a long time.

If you’re struggling with the will to perform, the inability to do so is most likely also present.

What can completely crush someone is, during a bad day, slowly spilling over with frustration and anger and anxiety over the fact that you’re not doing what you should be doing. It tends to prolong the bad day into days, or even weeks if you continue down that same road.

After realistically approaching your troubles and accepting the reality of it, there may come a time and day where you have to accept yet another thing.

It’s okay to not do anything for an entire day. It’s okay to not study. It’s okay to not get top grades. It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to not go out running. It’s okay to not be productive.

Essentially, it’s okay if all you did today was breathe.

Just like you can’t learn if you don’t make mistakes, you also can’t have good days if you don’t allow yourself to have bad days. This may mean you miss a day of studying, but take a step back and face the brutal truth. You’re destroying yourself over letters on a slip of paper. Push yourself too hard and you might reach a level of mental self-destruction that may result in you never being able to work again in your life. See that, accept it, and you’ll realize that one grade isn’t worth sacrificing your future over.

 

“I’ve been a thousand places

And shook a million hands

I don’t know where I’m going

But I know just where I am,”

Battle Born, Five Finger Death Punch

 

Outlets for your embarrassing emotions

“You’d be a lot happier if you weren’t so freaking repressed,”
-Isabelle Lightwood

 

Stress, anxiety, and bad days – it all ends in an emotional buildup that needs to be released in one way or another. If contained for too long, it may force its way out in the shape of an unexpected breakdown or a sudden sense of intense dread, sadness, and existential crisis.

So, naturally, healthier outlets are rather welcome. We know, it’s mind blowing.

Below, we’ve listed a few suggestions gathered from our own experience and from the experience of other people who are or have been in similar situations. Give a few a shot – maybe you’ll find something that’ll help you work through your emotions in a better way.

You know, in pursuit of avoiding the neverending crying and mental breakdowns.

1. Watercolor painting

“Oh god no,” Said the artistically untalented stressed teenager.

Don’t worry, no one said it had to be good art.

This approach is especially good for perfectionists . After giving this medium just one shot you will realize that watercolors will sometimes do what they want, completely disregarding where you wanted that paint to go. It also cannot be erased, even failures are forced to become part of the finished product.

It can be very relaxing to work with watercolors even if you’re just dotting splotches on a paper with no particular outcome in mind. After the initial frustration of feeling out of control there is a possibility of accepting that control isn’t always possible. When working with watercolors, sometimes less control means a better outcome. Letting the colors flow naturally may just offer a better result than if you were to micromanage them.

2. Writing

Translating emotions into words might be the most difficult thing on earth but it may also be the most efficient way of understanding yourself. Just writing down words you relate to in the moment can help you calm down and figure out how to deal with the situation. Some people choose to throw away the notes afterwards, just to really symbolise moving on. Others keep it to look back at to see the progress they’ve made.

3. Body Art

“Whenever I felt like self harming, which I do through cutting myself, I’ve been able to stay away from it by painting on myself at the place where I wanted to cut. Just make sure to use soft brushes with felt-tips so it doesn’t hurt at all. This is going to create a pretty pattern that you don’t want to ruin through cutting and it’s going to make you feel better about yourself when you’re covered in something beautiful. It can just be splashes of paint without context.”

// Vera, 16, Gothenburg

4. Dancing

Turn on your favorite music with a good beat that naturally makes you want to move, potentially remove any family members from your house, and let go. Distinguish the beat, move to it, listen to the melodies and mirror their flow.

5. Long walks

Oh yes. Lovely, physical exercise.

Trust us, taking a walk can be very refreshing. Listen to some music, take a few moments to breathe, and it’ll act as a well-deserved break from the world. If you feel as though you don’t have the time to take a walk or do something else relaxing, that’s when you absolutely need to do it.

6.  Cooking & Eating

Planning can sometimes calm you down because you feel like you’re doing something useful. Preparing and cooking a meal might ease your mind because you’re taking care of yourself.

Eating is something you can both use as a reward and as a punishment. You’re sad and angry, so you eat to suppress your feelings. You can also be happy or relieved about something and eat to reward yourself.

This is not a good strategy.

Eating too much when you’re sad can easily lead to getting sadder and feeling unhealthy.

Chocolate, however, has been proven to make you happy. It  “ releases several neurotransmitters that have positive effects on human feelings (that is, they make people happy). One of these is phenylethylamine, which causes alertness and a degree of excitement, quickens the pulse rate, and makes you happy.” – http://www.amanochocolate.com/faqs/why-does-chocolate-make-people-happy/

But be careful, chocolate is very sweet and may cause nausea. This could lead to an intense feeling of unease and discomfort as you may connect it to feeling down and sad.

7. Music

Many have already come to this conclusion and it really is one of the best ways to get a break from life, or whatever else may be troubling you. Whether it be the sound itself or the lyrics that help calm you down, try to put together a collection of songs you can turn to on your bad days. Find music you can relate to, and it may act as a supportive friend when it feels like you have no one.

Below are  two links to two different playlists for those bad days of yours: one for those enjoying more calm music, one for those out for the heavier stuff.

 

Songs for the sad and sobbing https://open.spotify.com/user/b678307/playlist/4Y83rPEVopcUBissLJB1t1

Songs for the depressed & dying

https://open.spotify.com/user/sarahsnothere/playlist/03t8YFuGkeCG9fe0zv65Vm

 

Written by Sarah Karlsson & Emma Johansson

 

One Comment
  1. Interesting reflections. Sometimes you need to be at the rock bottom before you can appreciate life. But we need strategies to pull ourselves out of the dark hole; if it only were that simple…

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