Possibly one of the most misunderstood parts of mental illness is that sometimes you really have no idea why you’re feeling the way you are.
Sometimes a bad mental health day comes around even when everything has been going great. All of a sudden, you start to get irritable and want to disappear so you don’t have to deal with anyone. Why? That’s the most frustrating part – you have no idea. Sound familiar? I know it’s hard, but you just gotta keep going.
Understand that this is just how your brain is wired
It’s inevitable that this will happen sometimes. Your brain is wired that way, and there is nothing wrong with that. My therapist told me that I have a brain wired to automatically be anxious and depressed. It’s not weird or abnormal, it’s just me. This is just you. We just have to make a conscious decision to be happy and satisfied with life or our brain will resort to what it knows best. But how? It’s so difficult and the pain is so bad, I hear you!
Understand that this is not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. You are suffering for a purpose. The burdens you have been blessed with are going to help change the lives of others one day. Remember that you have beaten every single bad day. Just ride the waves for now. I promise it gets better.
You’re having a bad mental health day because your body is overwhelmed. You might not recognize it, but your body does. Take a day to relax and practice self-care.
Being by yourself can be either good or bad, it’s your choice. Don’t take a day off to sulk, pick yourself up and take care of yourself. There is a difference between trying to understand what you’re going through versus “woe is me”. You are the only person in this world that can fix your mental health. No one else will be able to fill the void in your heart, take away the bad thoughts, or make you feel like you belong. That is all you and sometimes it’s hell trying to get to a place of contentment in your life. Focus on that word, contentment, not happiness. You can’t always be happy in life, but you can always find contentment in your situation. Work to change your mindset. It’ll eventually become easier and easier.
I’m sorry if that came out harsh, but I am only speaking from personal experience. I was hospitalized twice for suicidal thoughts with a plan in place. I have been where you are, I know how bad you’re hurting. What I’m telling you is that if you don’t do something to change your situation, it won’t get better. I promise the outcome of your efforts will shock you. Learn to love your mental illness and you will learn to love yourself. It is the best thing to ever happen to me. I wish I could scream that from the top of my lungs! My rock bottom is one of my most cherished experiences in life. I am so grateful for the burdens I have been blessed with.
What I’m trying to say is that sulking gets you nowhere during a bad mental health day. It’s okay to stay in bed, but don’t spend all day there. It’s okay to not shower or change your clothes for a few days, but don’t let it last all week. You need to put in effort during the days you least want to. It is the only way to make it better.
Self-care is a must
While you’re taking time for yourself, it’s important to practice self-care. Self-care isn’t always getting your nails done, eating a bunch of junk food, or getting away for the day. Self-care can be cleaning the house, working out, or paying your bills. Anything you can do to improve your quality of life, that is self-care.
Some great ideas of self-care are:
- Eat a proper diet and drink lots of water
- Exercise (of any kind) or a walk for 30 minutes
- Binge watch your favorite show on Netflix
- Go for a drive
- Practice deep breathing
- Knock out any tasks that can be done in five minutes or less
- Write down five things you are grateful for
- Take a shower
- Plan a vacation (my personal favorite)
- Purge your closet and/or house
- Write out your dreams and make a vision board
- Delete social media off your phone
Find your healthy coping mechanisms
What I mean by this is don’t let people who hurt you back in your life. Sure, it’s easy to fall back into a relationship with your ex. It’s also easy to remember shortly after the episode has passed why you two didn’t work out. Don’t go back to toxic friends or coworkers who make you feel less of yourself. Allow yourself to move on from them. You will feel so much better afterwards.
Remember that their are places in your heart that other people can fill, but there are places that only you can fill. Normally when we turn back, it’s because we’re looking for them to fill that void subconsciously. It might make it better for a little while, but in the end it only makes it worse.
Don’t turn to alcohol or drugs to help. Alcohol is a depressant and will only make things worse. You become an alcoholic because you’re drinking away your pain. What people don’t realize is that it’s the alcohol that keeps contributing to that pain, so they continue to drink. It’s a vicious cycle. In this case, use those urges and turn them into something healthy like exercise or writing. Stop bottling those thoughts up, man. It’s nothing but toxic.
Stop hurting yourself, I beg you. Those scars don’t release the pain you want them to. Paint red nail polish on your arm or snap yourself with a rubber band, but please don’t cut. You deserve so much more and to be happy.
Some ideas of healthy coping mechanisms are:
- Physical activity
- Humor (both watching comedy or making others laugh)
- Seeing a therapist
Seeing a therapist doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. I mean, if you are desperate to talk to someone, you can call or text the suicide hotline and trained professionals will talk with you as long as you want. It is free and completely confidential. You don’t have to even be suicidal. They are sitting by their phones waiting for you. You will not be ignored, I promise.
- Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis text line: text HOME or CONNECT to 741 741
Keep your mind (and body) occupied
There are a two proven ways that help EVERYBODY with their mental illness: exercise and writing. I couldn’t recommend these two more because they have changed the way I handle my mental health and same goes for many people that I know. When you start keeping your mind busy, the distraction takes away from the sadness you are feeling. It also boosts your endorphins.
So it doesn’t matter how down you’re feeling on a bad mental health day, force yourself to get up and do something and do it for at least 30 minutes. It gets easier and easier after the first five minutes or so. The best way to accomplish this is with hands-on activities or reading. With hands-on activities, your brain is too focused on the project to spend any time thinking about the problem. With reading, as long as it’s a book you can get lost in, your brain is taken to an entirely new world to explore.
Now I know some people think of this as “avoiding the problem”. It’s not. Depression is a lifestyle that can occur for any reason at any time. You need to change your lifestyle habits to change your depression. If you’re having a bad day and you don’t know why, get your hands busy with something and you will soon forget that you were even feeling sad. My dad always said, “idle minds breed bad thoughts” and that couldn’t be more true! Get your minds busy and your bad thoughts won’t exist.
This is why many people with anxiety and depression struggle with hyper fixation. This causes you to focus solely on one thing for two to three weeks and never touch it again. When I say focus, I mean obsess over it completely and it becomes all you can think about, you blow off other responsibilities for it, and completely immerse yourself in that lifestyle. For that reason, I have mastered reading (as a 5-year old I was reading 5th grade level books), sewing, starting online shops, blogging, baking, decorating, and so much more! I become hyper fixated very easily. Eventually, you’ll have to train yourself to no longer do that and learn how to treat hobbies as hobbies. For now, you just focus on what keeps your mind busy, that work can come later.
What are some things you do that help you overcome a bad mental health day? I’d love to hear below in the comments!