Now that I've come out of my closet and told almost everyone about my mental condition, I can freely write about. Yey! I've been wanting to share my insights about depression and anxiety and dealing with a mild bipolar disorder, but I've been scared, until I wrote about it in my previous post. Messages of support from friends and family poured in, and I couldn't be more grateful.
So what's it like to have a mental condition? Do I get to live a "normal" life? Of course! I do. We do. We're not train wrecks all the time. In fact, some of the people I know who also have mental conditions are smart and talented that their gifts overflow and touch other people. A lot of people see me as cheerful, and I like cracking jokes, no matter how lame the punchline is. I love laughing with my friends. I love weekends, just like other people.
Now that I'm taking meds, I feel I am more in control of my emotions. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by them that I break down and cry or just stare into space, but when I can control them, I do things to calm myself down. Here they are:
1. Sing and draw strength from our songs.
As a choir member, I get to be around people who also love to make music. Rehearsals can be stressful at times, especially when the songs are difficult or we have upcoming performances, but overall, the experience is uplifting and spiritually healthy. I find most of our songs articulating how I feel. When the songs have lyrics like "So anxious over countless things you cannot even name, be still and take my hand (from Let Me Be Your Stillness) and "Ang pagod kong diwa ay Iyong pahupain. Magdamag na pagtangis sana ay aliwin" (from Awit ng Pag-asam), I feel comforted. Being in a choir encourages me to pray, too, and I can feel His presence, and that comforts me.
2. Listen to my favorite songs (aside from the songs we sing in the choir).
I love Taylor Swift. I'm a huge Tay Tay fan. I don't care what other people say about her or her personality. I love her songs. I love her music. And the lyrics of her songs also articulate how I feel. There's a Taylor Swift song for every stage of my life. And when I feel down or crappy or just in a bad mood, I put on my earphones and drown myself in her music. I love Ingrid Michaelson, too. And Mindy Gledhill. And The Script. And Boyce Avenue. And Kina Grannis. I have their songs in my computer, so I can listen to them any time, even when I'm working.
3. Talk it out with my significant other.
I'm incredibly grateful that my boyfriend perfectly understands what I'm going through. He's a doctor, and although he's not a psychiatrist, he helps me deal with my roller coaster of emotions. I text or call him when I feel sad or miserable, even if it's because of no particular reason. Once, when I thanked him for his love and understanding, he told me all boyfriends should be like that, regardless if the guy is a doctor or not. And that's true. Find somebody who understands and is willing to be with you in this difficult journey. He or she doesn't have to be a boyfriend or a girlfriend. This person can be your best friend, or your sister or brother, or your closest pal in the office. If people judge you without an effort to understand you first, well, maybe these people don't deserve to be in your life. And you don't have to waste your time or effort running after them.
4. Jot down my thoughts in a notebook.
I'm a writer, and this should be second nature to me, right? Not really. It took me quite a long time to finally do it. I was scared that if I write about my fears, the causes of my anxiety, my insecurity, and my feelings, they might become more real. And all the more they would transform into a monster that I had been trying to run away from. Only recently did I realize how powerful having a private journal can be. I started writing down my racing thoughts as a form of release. And I felt lighter afterwards. Now, I keep a small notebook and a pen with me all the time, so I can write whenever I want to and wherever I am.
5. Just let myself be.
When I've tried all the aforementioned tips, and still I feel down, I just let myself be. Dealing with a mental illness made me realize that the more I wrestle with my emotions, the more it becomes difficult to deal with them. So sometimes, I just let myself be. If I'm sad for no reason, I pause, take deep breaths, and rest my mind. I don't try to make sense of it. I don't think about why I'm sad or down or anxious. I just let my emotions settle. And when I'm ready to deal with them, that's when I write on my journal, or listen to music, or call my significant other. And that's when I would feel better.
If you have mental conditions, too, or even if you don't have one but you're going through something as well, I hope you'll find the tips I shared helpful. If you need someone to talk to, just comment below. I'll be more than willing to reach out. Because as I've said in my previous post, we are not alone.