I remember times when I was in the midst of a bout of depression, or my anxiety was sky high, desperately wishing for support from someone. What I wanted was for someone to come along and wave a magic wand, to suddenly make everything alright again and magically make me feel better. If every you find yourself longing for this, what you really need is a way to support your mental health.
“If we want support, we have to support ourselves”
Of course, that is just not possible. No one person can ‘cure’ you or make everything better. I learned that only looking for others for the support I needed meant that I made myself totally reliant on them – that I was still giving away my power.
The day came when I realised that I had to stand up for myself, to support myself. Letting others be my support meant that they could also knock me back down too. In the midst of my breakdown three years ago, I took all my support from one friend, unfortunately, that friends idea of support was to project her own issues onto me, to try to put labels on me that were never mine, adn to insist that my healing looked the way she thought it should.
The day I realised that she actually was making me worse, was the day I learned to support myself. I discovered that I, and only I, could put in place the things that I needed. That if I wanted to heal, I had to support myself.
In taking back my power, I found healing. Standing up for myself, giving myself permission to be true to myself.
I entered a road of healing and self-growth, and realised just how lost I had been. Having my heart so entirely shattered ended up being the best thing that could ever have happened to me.
I had abandoned myself in the relationship – I had no self-worth, my confidence was low, and I had relied on the one I loved to save me. Then I transferred all of that onto a friendship.
I decided it was time I supported myself, that I became the things that I relied on others for. I set out to build a stronger, healthier relationship with myself.
Ways to support your Mental Health
1 – Give yourself compassion
Having been hard on myself my whole life, this was hard! I started slowly, acknowledging how bad I felt, not ridiculing myself for how I felt and allowing myself to feel the pain and now it was real.
Reminding myself that I was doing the best that I could right now, and that was all I had to do.
It was difficult to let myself feel how I did, and not feel bad for feeling bad. Slowly, though, it became easier and in practicing compassion, I found that it opened me up to self-love.
2 – Listen to your feelings
A lifetime of trying to run from my feelings meant that I shut them down and berated myself for feeling bad. I started listening to my feelings, trying to decipher what they were telling me and what it was I needed.
Instead of feeling bad for feeling sad, I’d give myself some self-love – have a long bath, read a book, watch a movie – treat myself as I would someone I loved who was feeling sad.
Identifying with my feelings helped my intuition build, and I learned to trust myself and my feelings, instead of second-guessing myself all the time.
3 – Embrace your values
After a lifetime of telling myself I was worthless, I found a list of values online and underlined the ones that spoke to me.
It helped me highlight what was important to me, what it was that I wanted to be part of my identity and also reconfirmed that I wasn’t worthless.
4- Let go of external validation
This was the hardest of all for me. Ever since being a small child, I looked to others for confirmation that I was doing a good job. With Social Media so prevalent – that validation was now coming in the form of likes and follows.
I got caught up with needing others approval, needing them to see me, and forgot about what really mattered – that I saw myself.
Taking time offline, and not looking to others to acknowledge how/what I was doing/feeling forced me to look for self-validation instead. It helped me reconnect with myself, and helped me see that I didn’t need others approval over decisions that I made.
5 – Respect your boundaries and needs
Because I was always looking to others for my support, I had zero boundaries in place. In stepping away from external validation, and highlighting my own values, I began to see that I needed to put boundaries in place.
My mental health is delicate, and very important to me, and I found that my needs meant creating boundaries to keep nurturing it. It meant going against what some people thought best for me.
Working out, eating a vegan, sugar free, gluten free diet while I healed. It meant walking away from friendships that were toxic, in choosing to spend more time alone instead of looking for constant company to avoid feeling my feelings.
Most importantly, knowing that I was allowed to put my needs first, to put boundaries in place and to do what I needed to nurture myself, meant that I was finally giving myself the support that I needed. It is so important that you take the corrects steps for you to support your mental health.
Awaken; return to yourself”Marcus Aurelius
It was a long, hard road to build a better relationship with myself, but ultimately it left me as a strong woman, who placed herself and her needs first. It gave me the strength to walk away from an abusive relationship, instead of letting myself be dragged back under.
In supporting myself, I empowered myself, and created a happier me,