MENTAL ILLNESS – YOU ARE NEVER ALONE

With the current times and so much uncertainty around health in general, the lines around one’s mental health can often feel a little blurry. Our emotions are heightened, and it may be quite concerning if we are unaware of whether we’re just having a bad day, or if we are bordering onto a mental illness.

The World Health Organization states on their website that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, “fear, worry, and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, (and) it is normal and understandable that people are feeling fear (at this time).”

Given that most of us have had to isolate for the majority of last year and well into this year, it hasn’t been easy to stay positive and happy at all times. This could very well have manifested into feelings of guilt for not being able to be there for our loved ones, the fear of catching the virus, or even anger that the pandemic has gone on for an entire year, stunting our ability to go back to normalcy.

However, please don’t beat yourself up because it is actually healthy to feel these emotions. In fact, there are multiple things you can do to take yourself out of that space of poor mental health, and turn that frown upside down. Some actions that are fairly easy and less time consuming would be –

  • Make your bed – Right when you wake up, take the extra 5 minutes and smoothen out your sheets. It is the easiest thing to do to set the right tone for the day, and once accomplished, it will motivate you to get to your next task.
  • Have a nutritious meal – Our elders were one hundred per cent correct when they would urge us to finish our greens. Veggies, fruits and healthy fats like avocado and sweet potato are not just important for our body, but our minds too. So, instead of going for that McDonald’s drive through, stop by a little Mom n’ Pop shop instead and grab a hearty green smoothie, or better yet, make your own smoothie at home.
  • Go for a walk – Even if it is just for 10 minutes, you will feel so much better once you have got some fresh air in you. If you do live an active lifestyle, maybe even do a few crunches or push ups before you leave the house. It will get your blood pumping and adrenaline flowing, which will make you more energetic, in turn.

Now once you’ve done these things, there may be a chance that you still don’t feel up to going about your day. Perhaps you start to feel worse, or you can’t even bring yourself to get out of bed because your mind is racing and you are starting to feel nauseous just by thinking about the day ahead of you. That is when you want to start considering the possibility that you may be living with a mental illness, otherwise known as a mental health disorder.

According to mayoclinic.org, some common signs and symptoms of a mental illness, depending on the type of disorder, include feeling sad or down (for an extended period of

 

time), reduced ability to concentrate, excessive fears or extreme feelings of guilt, extreme mood changes of highs and lows, withdrawal from friends and activities, significant tiredness, low energy or problems with sleeping, detachment from reality, concerns of alcohol or drug abuse, major changes in eating habits, sex drive changes, excessive anger or violence, and suicidal thoughts.

If you feel like you are experiencing any of the above, please know that there is help available. As difficult as it may seem to reach out when you are going through it in real time, it is extremely important that you give yourself that time to understand what you are going through and to seek help. It is also imperative to remind yourself that you are not alone and that recovery is very possible.

According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada. However, due to the stigma associated with mental illness, only “50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member with a mental illness, compared to 72% who would discuss a diagnosis of cancer and 68% who would talk about a family member having diabetes.”

That is where we come into play.

Our mission at Reach Out Together is to empower people to break the stigma against mental health and work towards recovery. Sometimes, when you are experiencing mental health concerns, you may not know who to reach out to, or what resources are available to you. Our job, in that case, would be to help you find the tools available to you in your area of living, and encourage you to utilize them, so that you can get onto the path of recovery. All you would have to do is reach out to us.

In addition to being your support in a time of crisis, we also believe in the power of educating our community about mental health, so that when the time arises, you will be well equipped to face these challenges. Our focus is to make human lives better, peer to peer, community by community through educational and interactive programs, seminars, webinars, workshops, and events. Believe us when we say, it is never too late to start. We see you and we are here for you.

For more information about our programs, or for any help at all, reach out to us at r esource@reachouttogether.com .