I had a completely different topic for today, but I just decided to change it at the last minute. I want to talk about mental health and how it affects us all differently. As many of us know, the rate of depression and anxiety has risen a lot since the pandemic. For a lot of us (me included) who were already fighting depression and anxiety before the pandemic, we kind of found ourselves in a deeper hole. What I find interesting is how we all deal with it. You might see a group of depressed people, but they all handle it differently. In my case, I go back and forth from feeling numb to overly emotional. I’m extremely tired. I can get up and feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and every task can feel so draining. I withdrawal a lot and I’m either very hungry or not hungry at all. I might even drink more than usual just to get a mental break. Even with all the changes, one thing I can still manage to do is to be nice to others. I try my best to separate the two. If I simply don’t feel like talking, I will either not answer the phone or text them and let them know that I will call them later. Or I would simply be honest and let someone know that I’m mentally not in the right space to talk, and I don’t want to bring others down as well.
As an empath, I take on a lot of people’s emotions. If I’m already feeling low and I’m with another depressed person it brings my energy lower, which could be the reason why I try to wear a mask when I’m around others. I don’t want them to fall in my web of negative energy. I will literally wait until they walk out and leave before I let my emotions out and breakdown. I can feel it piling on, but I will try to suppress it as hard as I can until I have a moment alone. If it’s so bad to where I can no longer hold it, then that’s when I would run to the bathroom and turn on the water in hopes to drown out the cries. It’s not easy, but I just don’t want to be that anchor pulling others down with me. I also would never want to take things out on someone (especially when they’ve done nothing to me). Even in a work like setting, I try to wear a mask and always remain pleasant for a good work environment. It’s not always easy, but you find ways to excuse yourself when you need a minute to recharge.
However, it’s different for everyone. Some people will spread it around and use you as a punching bag, but that’s what’s interesting about mental health. It’s different for everyone. We all handle things differently. Everything comes to play when it comes to how we deal with things. It can go all the way back to childhood and our environment. My parents always taught me the importance of being nice to people. I was taught compassion and kindness. My at home life was never hostile and there was no lashing out. Maybe, that’s why I try to separate my internal struggles when I’m around others. I don’t want to show weakness or make others uncomfortable. The moment my mask falls around someone I feel incredibly guilty, but when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope it’s hard to keep that mask on 24/7. If you wear it too long you might feel like you’re the joker, constantly switching between different emotions.
Deep diving into this topic makes me wish that I would’ve kept psychology as my major back in college. On the other hand, with the way things have been with me over the years, it wouldn’t be the best field for me. Taking on everyone else’s demons on top of my own would’ve been too much for me in the long run, but someday I would love to revisit the field for interest alone. I would like to read up on case studies and find out all the factors that contribute to our behaviors. Why are some able to handle things differently in similar situations? Two people could be falling apart inside, and their actions can be completely different. Depression doesn’t always look like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. A lot of times it can be that upbeat person who’s always smiling, dancing, and laughing. A lot of us have that “You got to laugh to keep from crying” mentality. It’s a defense mechanism that keeps a lot of people going, and unfortunately, those are the people that fly under people’s radar because you would never know that they’re hurting by looking at them (unless you’re very perceptive and can see through their façade). It can be hard to tell sometimes. Sometimes it might seem like the visibly depressed person is doing far worse than the one who’s always smiling, but behavior doesn’t always measure the state of someone’s mental health. In moments like this I wish we had mandatory counseling in grade school (from elementary to high school). Some of us just don’t know how to deal with our emotions and refuse to get help. Some can continue to navigate through the world, while others simply can’t handle it. It just piles up until they spiral. While there’s no “one size fits all” solution it’s important that you try various options until you find something that works FOR YOU. Don’t wait until things pile up. As soon as it starts… work on it. As soon as you recognize the negative change in you … work on it! We have to take care of ourselves. By taking care of ourselves, we are ultimately taking care of each other.