If you’ve been following the news, you know this year is already off to a chaotic start. Thankfully, my life isn’t as disorderly as the state of America. At the same time, I’m not exactly where I want to be. So I’m writing this post to work through some of the things that have been on my mind regarding mental health.
How I Started My Mental Health Journey
A couple of years ago, depression was kicking my butt. I would go to church with my family every weekend and cry. At some point, my granny recommended that I seek professional help. That moment changed my life. I didn’t realize I was looking for approval to work on my mental health. As someone that grew up in the church, I believed that you only took your problems to God. Now I have the understanding that not only do you take it to God, but he’s set people on the earth to help us find healing.
I started therapy immediately after that conversation, and I’ve been attending up to this day. I’m so thankful that I’ve gotten a handle on the things that were triggering my depression. It’s weird looking back at that time in my life. It was so dark and almost consumed me, but now I feel so disconnected from it.
How I Maintain My Mental Health
Most of my therapy sessions today consists of working on personal growth, specifically focusing on my relationships with people. I have a difficult time getting close to people. I have to assess a situation and determine that it’s safe before I completely open up. The sad thing is, I rarely feel safe enough to open up. So I have this void for affection and a sense of belonging.
A lot of my actions make sense now that I’ve come to that realization. Let’s take intimacy as an example. It’s a short-term fix, but sex is an easy way to feel affection and intimacy, even if it is superficial. Making an intimate connection takes time because you have to build a level of trust. Sex also requires a level of trust, but it doesn’t have to be as stable. I haven’t made a lot of the best decisions over the past year. But I finally realized I’ve been trying to fill this void. I’ve been trying to make connections, even if they’re only for a moment.
When my ex broke up with me last year, it crushed me. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why I was so bothered. We only dated for two months, but the breakup really hurt me. It was so bad that I barely had an appetite for weeks. I did everything you could think of to get over your ex, which eventually worked. But I still didn’t have closure.
That was my first relationship, so I figured maybe I was in love. But I was lying in bed recently, and all of the answers I needed finally hit me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was using them to fill a void. I wasn’t hurt about losing them. Losing access to consistent affection from someone I trusted is what bothered me the most. They were an amazing person, but I realized I was more focused on what I could get out of the relationship. That revelation made me happy that we’re no longer together because they deserved better than me.
My 2021 Mental Health Goals
One of my goals for this year is to build the courage to live more authentically. I base the majority of my relationships on people-pleasing to get what I need out of the relationship. The ironic thing is, I rarely get what I need, not to mention my actions come across disingenuous. Rather than trying to make people like me, I want to focus on being more brave and confident and just let the chips fall where they may.
If you’re wanting to join in on setting some goals for yourself, I’d recommend checking out the book 52 Lists for Bravery. To get started, you can start with the prompt below:
“List the issues, struggles, and challenges within yourself that you want to build the bravery to tackle or face.”
How to Find Therapy
When I first started going to therapy, I didn’t have the best insurance. So I went through my university and found a student-run clinic. Student clinics are a great way to cut costs if you are on a budget. If you do have insurance, I would recommend reaching out to your insurance company for recommendations. Some employers also offer services that will allow free sessions. So it’s always a good idea to check with your employer’s HR department. I’ve never used it myself, but I hear great things about Talkspace.com. Lastly, for my black men, I would check out Therapy for Black Men.
Just a little side note, if you’re interested in shopping for the outfit from the featured image, check out this blog post.