With the recent upswing in conversation about mental illness, it feels like we’re all living through a sudden epidemic of depression and anxiety. The truth, however, is that mental illness has always been around and some of its earliest accounts date as far back as ancient Greece. In fact, I think it’s safe to assume that mental illnesses have existed for as long as we have. The only difference is that people have slowly become more open to talking about it.
Over time, we’ve taken something faceless and given it a name. We’ve learned to understand and identify one of nature’s most widespread but least talked-about occurrences, and found solutions for it. The therapies for mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are varied, and for most people, they involve a lot of trial and error. But over time, everyone who suffers from a mental illness will eventually stumble upon fail-safes that help them during times of mental crisis: their very own Mental Health Kit.
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A Mental Health Kit is an assortment of items that can comfort, reassure and help you through mentally trying times. Just like we’ve learned to understand and identify mental illness, we must learn how to get through the times we find difficult. And putting together a Mental Health Kit is a great way to start.
Through my 17 years living with depression, I’ve unknowingly put together my own Mental Health Kit, which I dip into when I have bad days.
Here’s what’s in it:
When all else fails, fall back on a trusted family member or friend. Living with a mental illness is, by nature, a solitary and isolating experience. And sometimes, love really is all you need. While it’s important to know how to care for yourself, part of caring for yourself is knowing when to lean on someone you trust for support. No battle in history was fought alone, and there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. I also believe it’s important to have someone you know clued into what you’re going through. Pick a non-judgemental friend to confide in when you need to. You’d be surprised how much it helps to just be able to tell someone how you really feel.
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