Everywhere I look today, all I see is the announcement that it is World Mental Health Day. It’s all over the newspapers, Instagram, the radio, and reiterated in the idea of this lovely blog hop organised by Roma and Rakhi. It’s nice to see this important subject finally get its due in the world, but I worry that it’s just a trend – a mere buzzword being bandied about by people and brands for the sake of getting eyeballs. In my opinion, mental health is a vast subject and everyone – yes I do mean, every single person in this world – suffers from some type of mental health issue at some point in their lives. Hence, merely demarcating a day or month or particular time period to talk about it, seems to be mere lip service being paid to this very important subject. Mental health issues must be normalised, they must become part of regular discourse so that people may truly have a chance at healing.
I think I’ve rambled on quite a bit already, but I really felt the need to highlight this. By now, from the tone of my (admittedly, very last minute!) blog post, you may have realised that this is going to be more like a diary entry, and less of an offering of advice on mental health. I will certainly share what I do to deal with my emotional turmoil, in keeping with the subject I have chosen to write on, but that will come later. First, let me speak about my own mental health issues.
MY MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
My teenage years were difficult to say the least. Severe hormonal issues (PCOS) combined with bullying in school, led to body dysmorphia (I’m also going to link to other personal essays I’ve published on different platforms, which I feel are connected to this subject. Feel free to read them if you have the time and interest), and a deliberate shutting out of the world.
I found solace in books and food, and later I sought out romantic relationships to address this deep-set insecurity about the way I looked (overweight, acne-ridden, hairy and just ugly in my own eyes). The kind of boys I attracted at that very young and impressionable age were entirely wrong for me. Hence, sadly for many years, I suffered many heartbreaks at the hands of many frogs, till I finally met my prince (whom I’m very fortunate to be married to now).
Marriage, a budding legal career, motherhood, and finally transitioning to a second career as a writer and journalist, were all quite challenging in their own right. Yet, with the maturity of age and added responsibilities of life, my own seemingly silly insecurities took a backseat and I learnt to become stronger as a human.
Then came the biggest fiasco of all: I developed an autoimmune disorder called Psoriasis after turning 30. This skin rash began as a tiny spot on my foot but after Covid took on mammoth proportions, bleeding, paining, swelling, preventing regular movement and wreaking havoc on my mental health in the process. After attempting to treat it through allopathy for years, I turned to Ayurveda earlier this year, a slow but sure long-term treatment, as I have been told. As the treatment trundles on and I face numerous setbacks and psoriatic flare-ups, my mental health continues to be the worst affected. This year, therefore, has been the most mentally taxing one for me in a very long time – purely because of my physical health.
Now that you have a vivid backdrop of my mental health concerns that often cause serious emotional turmoil, I’m ready to share what I do to deal with them. Please keep in mind that I am no expert, but I hope you can relate to my methods, if nothing else.
HOW I DEAL WITH EMOTIONAL TURMOIL
- Be Mindful, Be Aware
I hate to preach to you about being aware of the cause of your feelings in order to deal with them properly, because I rarely do that myself. However, I have many loving people in my life who make me aware of these feelings, so I can recognise why I’m feeling the emotional anguish in the first place. As so often happens, when I’m agitated for some reason, it ends up coming out in the form of a fight or negative comments directed towards other people. By being aware of why I feel upset, I can avoid perpetuating this sort of negativity, and be able to find my inner zen more quickly.
- Speak to an Expert
Earlier this year, for the first time in my life, I decided to consult a psychotherapist. The treatment was meant to complement my ongoing Ayurvedic treatment, as stress is a major cause of psoriatic flare-ups. Though I didn’t stick with her for too long, while the sessions lasted they certainly helped. I found myself speaking to her about a wide range of things –from regular stuff that I may share with a friend, to existential crises like the possibility of AI replacing us! A couple of sessions were high-octane tear fests as I moaned and groaned about some minor issue which to my mind seemed very pressing at that point!! Having been through it personally now, I highly recommend consulting a therapist if you’re ever feeling low for any reason.
- Don’t Shy Away from Mild Forms of Escapism
This is perhaps the easiest one to follow for each of us. Find a hobby to lose yourself in when you feel particularly low. For me, books have been a constant companion ever since childhood, but I also thoroughly enjoy watching films and TV shows for the same reason. Chatting to a friend, going to the salon, getting a spa / massage, listening to music, doing art / craft with my son – these are all easy and mild forms of escapism that can distract me from my emotional turmoil. You don’t need to do these exact things – find a hobby that aligns with your personality.
- Retail Therapy Always Helps
This is a highly personal tip, but I love shopping. Retail therapy, whether online or in a mall or marketplace, always pulls me out of a bad mood. In fact, I don’t even need to buy anything. Just window shopping is enough for this form of therapy to work for me!
- Take Long Walks and Longer Baths
Being out in nature and exercising are age-old methods of inducing a natural endorphin rush. So, I look to combine the two for sure-shot results. Going for a brisk walk in a park while I listen to my favourite music, has the power to pull me out of the doldrums and set the tone right for the rest of my day. If you do nothing else on my list, just do this and you will feel a difference in your mood for sure. And the cherry on top is to take a long and leisurely bath once you come home. There is nothing quite as luxurious as taking time out to pamper yourself. Just follow these steps and keep your emotional turmoil at bay.
- Play with Makeup
This is very specific to my preferences but those who know me, are aware of how much I enjoy playing with makeup. The application of it, researching on products and playing with colours to create a work of art on my face, has always been therapeutic for me. If I’m ever feeling down and out, just the act of applying makeup and getting ready helps me de-stress!
- Travel Far and Wide
Travel is certainly balm to my soul. I’m aware this isn’t an easy option for everyone, yet even just planning a getaway can help you de-stress. The idea of being on vacation, away from all the worries of life, is enough to uplift my mood. And of course, when I’m actually travelling, I’m expanding my horizons while also taking time out for myself, which is so important.
- Book a Session of Acupuncture
This one may be tough for those of you who don’t have access to a good acupuncturist, but I can’t recommend this ancient Chinese therapy enough! I have cured wide-ranging problems such as a slipped disc, boils, and psoriasis inflammations through acupuncture. It is a great way to relieve physical pain as well as an excellent way to relax and de-stress. In fact, it’s also what I chose to do the morning of my son’s birthday party so I could have a fuss-free, fun time!
- Most Importantly, Write!
Since I’m in the August company of fellow bloggers and writers here, I’m sure I don’t need to explain the appeal of this failsafe method of dealing with emotional turmoil. The most direct form of therapy for me is to write my feelings down in a journal – let them out of my system and convey them in a manner that my anger prevents me from doing in words. But strangely, I find even just the act of writing (not about my feelings but a regular article for a newspaper) enough to calm me down after an emotional outburst. For me, writing is the ultimate form of mindfulness, where I am one with the words, one with my thoughts and deeply connected to the creative zone inside my head. Try it. If you don’t want to write your feelings or journal, just write anything – a story, a poem, a paragraph describing a scene you can see in front of you. Trust me, it works like magic!
Having droned on for quite a while, I’ll bow out now. But I do look forward to reading your posts. If anything in particular struck you from today’s post, don’t hesitate to reach out. I will always be there for a friend.
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