Mental Health Awareness Month: Sharing the Journey

Mental Health Awareness Month: Sharing the Journey

May is almost over, and I almost forgot to write a blog post about Mental Health Awareness Month! 

Ok... So that’s not exactly true. 

While this is an issue that’s always been a huge part of my story for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to weave it in somehow but I’ve never been sure how because of the stigma that surrounds it. 

The thing is, this journey has influenced my personal life, creative process, and business more than anything else I can think of.

So why not open up about it?

The way I see it, the more people talk about the impact that mental health has in daily life, the more people become aware that there are ways to handle things when they come up. The goal is to help people manage their lives and mental health rather than hide away and feel alone.

The more open we are, the easier it gets for everyone. And that's a good thing.

So. Let’s talk. 

Sharing My Mental Health Journey 

My journey started with my family because my mom, whom I love very dearly, suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder.

I won't go into details, but let's just say I grew up in a fairly volatile environment. 

Even as a kid, I had a sense that my home life wasn't exactly "normal”. Among other things, I was intentionally isolated and always felt very alone as a result. BPD wasn't something that your average person knew very much about back then, myself included. Either way, there just wasn't much anyone could do. When I left home, I didn't have the same family support a lot of people get, but I had all I needed: a way to support myself, a healthy curiosity about the world around me, and a desire to heal.

That last bit was key. 

As a result of the environment I came from, I've personally experienced and made my way through CPTSD, anxiety, and depression. As early as I can remember, I had a tendency to try and find support in those around me, even though at the time, all anyone could really do was listen. I’ve been in therapy most of my life, but my healing journey truly began after leaving home in the late 90’s. Getting away from the volatility helped pave the way to address a lot of underlying issues.

But a surprising ray of light in my healing process?

Making jewelry. 

After my mom had a major health scare in 2002, she would eventually get diagnosed and got treatment at that time. I was an absolute mess because it was touch and go there for a while. My dad took note and suggested I start making jewelry to calm my nerves.

It was so simple, but something he remembered from my childhood. He took me to a gem shop in Portland, OR to get some beads and I quickly became obsessed again. Not only did I discover that working with my hands was like a physical form of meditation, but creating beauty from hardship felt very poetic.

Powerful, even. 

To this day, along with therapy, this creative outlet helps calm the inner turmoil when I'm struggling. It makes me appreciate the more challenging parts of my life in a new way which gives me hope for the future. Not only did this experience inspire how I live my life, but it's the foundation of my business, and it's become an integral part of my healing journey. 

Three Tips for Your Healing Journey

I've learned a lot along the way, but there's a few things that keep coming up again and again in conversations about mental health and the healing process. 

Self Compassion is Key

Understand that you inherently deserve self compassion and learn how to extend yourself the same grace and kindness you are so willing to give to others.

This is especially true in times of personal struggle. In those moments where you feel like you’ve failed, or life is changing in ways you just don’t expect and you’re stumbling, resist the urge to be harsh and overly judgemental of yourself. Everyone stumbles in those moments. It’s the most normal thing you can do, and it's really ok to show yourself a little kindness.

Something that has absolutely changed my life is to simply accept that I deserve the same compassion I would give to anyone I cared about in tough times. I don't remember when I realized this, but at some point I noticed that I'm so much harder on myself than anyone else. This is especially true when I was struggling the most. This habit always had a way of making things worse which kept me stuck.

It's so much easier to learn, grow and move forward when problems are approached in without judgement and with self compassion.

While it sounds small, it's actually one of the most difficult things I've learned to manage my mental health, and I'm still learning.

But it's so very worth it.

Build Your Support System 

This is a skill everyone needs to know, and you can start anytime. A well-rounded support system is a key element that can help keep your mental health in check, and help in a crisis. 

So how do you start? 

Feel out your friends and family to see who is willing and able to support you when you need it most. Start with small things, share a little bit and see how it goes. Be judicious in your search, and don't expect much support from anyone who diminishes you or your experience. 

Another big part of this is to find support groups, in person or online. It helps to be around people who really get it sometimes. And of course, go to therapy. 

Our mental health is most fragile when we’re going through challenging times. Having a support system built into your life is a key part of making sure you can get through the most challenging moments life has to offer. 

Ask for Help When You Need It

This is probably the hardest part, but it circles back to my first point about self compassion. There is no shame or guilt in asking for help. Truly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. It’s a necessary part of life. We’re social creatures, and we need a support system sometimes. Especially when we’re struggling.  Imagine the person you love most in this world is struggling and needs some extra support during a crisis. 

Wouldn’t you want to find a way to help? 

Share Your Mental Health Journey

I always wished the subject of mental health wasn't such a taboo subject growing up. I know it's better now, but there's still a long way to go.

Case in point?

Sharing this is absolutely terrifying. 

I hope one day, it won’t be. 

And I hope opening up about my own mental health journey helps in some small way. 

Do you have something to add to the list that helps keep your mental health in check? 

Drop your comments below. Let’s talk!

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