I read a quote somewhere that said "Self-care is how you take your power back." – It really stuck with me as someone who doesn't really make it a habit to take time to rest or just.... relax. A therapist told me it's because I have an 'avoidant' process of handling my struggles or day-to-day problems so I am always doing something – cleaning an already clean place, cooking late at night even though I'm not hungry, getting urges to do assignments in the middle of the night – just to be "busy" and not thinking about what's eating at me.
As simple or normal as this sounds for some, it's not okay to be a slave to your day-to-day struggles or emotions.
If things seem to be way more difficult and you're finding it hard to cope – you want to throw in the towel and just be alone – things that were okay before have become heavy and disappointing now and all you can do is translate it to a fit of overwhelming rage, or just cry – You are not okay.
It's okay not to be okay – sometimes – we all go through unimaginable things and carry enormous pain from so many different happenings.
What's not okay, is when you're overwhelmed over a span of weeks to months.
Here in Jamaica or the Caribbean at that, many tend to assume mental disorders are only limited to the man on the street who lays in the middle of the road or on the sidewalks. In reality – many of them are only homeless – not "mad" or "mental."
Mental illnesses and disorders come in so many different forms, and let's be real with ourselves – even our parents may have been struggling with a mental disorder and had no idea.
Mental disorders come in the form of depression – when day-to-day tasks have become heavier and heavier as the days go by and you just feel like you cannot cope.
Anxiety – which can cause physical stomach pains and cramps, nausea, muscle tension or even uncontrollable shaking.
Bipolar disorders - which is a type of mood disorder that used to be called 'manic depression.' A person with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of joy and happiness then sudden depression. Things in your environment or surroundings can also trigger these episodes for you.
Post-traumatic stress disorders or PTSD are not only limited to war veterans, soldiers or police officers – it's actually a mental health condition in people who have experienced any traumatic event.
A traumatic event can be a car accident, physical or sexual assault, torture or natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods.
The thing about trauma for a lot of us, is how much it is downplayed and treated as insignificant, especially in the Caribbean. I think it's a generational habit to down-play continuous periods of sadness or major events that have really impacted our lives – This is not okay.
Schizophrenia is also a disorder many tend to misunderstand. This is a more complex condition that usually involves delusions, hallucinations or even something as seemingly simple as frequent desires to withdraw from people you love, a lack of motivation for things you once enjoyed, scattered thinking or memory loss.
Regardless of what you go through on a daily basis, it's important to check in with yourself. Listen to your body.
We spend so much time listening to everything else around us instead of our body and mind – when this could have been the solution to detecting many things early. Your body will always show you the signs that something is wrong.
Your body is a temple. It takes you through life, your greatest moments, your struggles and your milestones. Take care of it by taking control of it. Your body deserves it.
If you are struggling with your mental health, just remember that you are not weak. A mental disorder is exactly that – an illness. Get the help you need today.
If you need some help or you are having thoughts of ending your life, please call
1-888-NEW-LIFE or 1-888-639-5433.