Who would have known that my darkest days would be my best days for enlightenment? I have found that during a depressive and/or anxious episode, my soul had something to tell me. I learned to embrace the state I was in and force myself out of the victim mentality and become a victor. My relationship with my mental health is growing stronger every day. I am sharing my experience in hopes to remind someone that they are not alone, and that the light is near.
During my deepest moments of depression and anxiety I thought I was so lost. I found myself spending too much time in my shadow. I call depression, anxiety and basically any feeling that is not uplifting oneself a shadow of their true self. Your true self is the unbound happiness you are born with the right to experience regardless of circumstances. The paradox is whenever there is light, there is a shadow. The shadow is a part of us that follows us everywhere we go, but we only notice it when we are forced to look down.
We all heard the phrase that “life is a journey”, yet where are we going? In my experience I found that our emotions are our compass for life and point us in the direction of our destiny. So instead of berating yourself when you are on an emotional roller-coaster ask yourself, “What am I trying to tell myself, what do I need to change?” That was the first step for me to start to overcome my mental health challenges. I realized that I had always had the power to change my life.
Below are a few tips I found helpful on my mental health journey. Please remember that these are tips that helped me. What worked for me may not work for you, so choose whatever resonates with you.
- Meditation Calm and Headspace are great apps for novices to meditation. I literally had no idea how to meditate or what it really was when I started. A professor of mines referred these apps and I just took his advice and it changed my life. Now 2 years later I meditate daily and lead a mindful life. Meditation forces you to slow down, and appreciate all you have. You realize you have more time, power and ability to manifest the life you want.
- Prayer this has helped me tremendously. I found that my spiritual life wavered when I would get depressed or anxious. However talking with God/Source/The Universe whatever you believe has given me an outlet.
- Journaling Daily It is easy to feel isolated when you are depressed or anxious so journaling was a way for me to get my thoughts and ideas out. Especially for those nights I could not sleep.
- Regular exercise routine I found that this was a big one for me. It is easy to get caught up in a sedentary lifestyle and neglect our bodies when we are not feeling well. But getting your body moving, and those endorphins pumping is an act of self love! For those who do not have guidance when it comes to physical health, I found the Nike Training App and Youtube to be great for working out on the go. The Nike app lets you choose workouts based on your schedule, level of expertise and body type. It is easy to follow and FREE!
- Spending more time outdoors even if you are not working out outdoors, simply being outside connecting to Earth is a great way to ground yourself. I found that sitting on the grass and staring at the beauty of nature was great medicine for me.
- Vision Boarding I am a visual learner so for me writing down my goals and printing images of the life I see myself living was a great reminder for what can manifest in my life. You can google vision boards to get an idea of what you can do. There is no one way to create one, the very act of taking the time out to put your goals out in the world is an act of self-love!
- Celebrating every victory Many of us who suffer from any mental health condition or episode tend to be very self-critical. It is easy to get lost in the sauce and forget how far we have come! Take the time out to celebrate your progress. Every workout you do is milestone, every day you wake up and go to work even when you feel down is to be celebrated! Find the little things in life that you accomplish and remind yourself that they make a difference.
- Positive Affirmations This was a big one for me. I found that I was not being kind to myself with the things I was telling myself. Many of us do not even realize we can be our own worst critics until we are forced to look within. I would suggest writing down several “I am” statements that dictate the life you seek to live. For instance, when I am depressed I say something along the lines of “I am happy, I am worthy, I am healthy” Find what works for you and stick with it. The late Louise Hayes has wonderful positive affirmations on Youtube you can listen to for free.
I hope that these few tips helped you realize all the power you have and have always had over your life. I hope you felt a sense of connection in a journey that can often times feel lonely. You are beautiful. You are powerful. You are everything. Your dreams deserve someone chasing them, so go after whatever is on your heart and let your darker times remind you that light is to come.
Written by Ermaline Ogbodo