Story time! So this past weekend, I went to visit my parents and hang out with my brother and his girlfriend as well as my niece and nephew. It was a great time seeing everyone and I thoroughly enjoy when I get to spend time with them. Well, while I was visiting, I was discussing with my mom about my recent panic attacks. Yes, I have been getting quite a few ever since I made the transition from grad school to the real world. She told me something that gave me hope, other than telling me she supports me getting therapy and such. What she said was she feels relieved that millennials talk about mental health.
Talking about mental health is a great way to normalize getting help and getting support. I am all for talking with others about my mental state and getting to know theirs as well. The amazing thing is, most of the time, people will listen to you and empathize.
I strongly believe that we need to openly discuss how we are feeling and our mental state. I feel a strange connection with other’s when I do this. Usually the other person is also going through something at that time and it’s nice to know that you are not alone. I frequently bring up that I have gone to therapy, that I have anxiety, that I have frequent panic attacks, and that i may or may not have some from of mental disorder. These things are more common than you know. According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly 1/3 of millennials have some type of behavior health problem and suffer more from depression than older generations. So yes, it is very common.
We need to do more to make it known that people do not need to suffer alone. This is why I encourage you, especially those in grad school or college, to talk with your friends about mental health. Talk with adults about mental health and make it less of something that is somewhat taboo. We need to do better about this topic.
How to talk to others about your mental health
You may be asking yourself, “how the heck do I bring up my mental health to someone else?” or possibly “why should I do this? People won’t understand.” In this case, I have a few answers to this. First off, bringing up your mental health can be as simple as just saying you are feeling a bit anxious today about something. When you are talking with a friend or someone you work with, it is often common to bring up things that are a bit difficult. You may talk with a friend about something that happened in your life that has been hard. In this case, bring up how that has made you feel and maybe that there are some other things that are a bit difficult happening as well. Your friend will definitely talk about it with you.
If you are at work and you are really having a rough time, bring it up to a work buddy. Say that you are feeling a bit stressed or anxious about the work. They may have the same thing to say and you can work with them on giving each other support. I often bring up my anxiety to coworkers (make sure they are trustworthy if you are talking with your coworkers) and I let them know that I am feeling a bit anxious about work. They are always extremely supportive and many of them give extremely good advice on how to cope. I have never had a bad experience telling someone how I feel.
In grad school, find support
I think the end of my PhD was the most mentally draining experience of my life. Heck, I was already working when I was finishing my dissertation. I would work all day then come home and put in like 3 to 4 hours of work then go to bed and repeat. Jumping back and forth with mentally taxing tasks really messed me up. This is usually the case for many grad students. When this happens, please reach out to some form of support whether that’s a therapist, talking to a friend, or even talking with your adviser. Getting support during the stressful times can save you years of anxiety and possibly depression that occurs because of the mental gymnastics that comes with grad school. I got support from my friends, family, and a therapist. Without the support, then I don’t know how I would have finished.
In the working world, find support
The best part about life after grad school is actually having money. Use that money to get help from a licensed professional. Talk with them about your mental health and the coping mechanisms that are there to help reduce those feelings. Therapy is the best thing, I promise you. It is amazing at how a few sessions can cause such a drastic change on how you perceive emotions and feelings. If you want to learn more, check out my posts about my experience with therapy. I am starting therapy up again, so I will definitely write about my experience with therapy as a full time employee. I anticipate the sessions that I have will be a bit different than when I was in grad school.
Also, if you make friends at work, talk with them about mental health like I said above. That might be helpful. Aside from that, your job may have therapy coverage through their insurance. I’m hoping mine does, but we will see. Covid really helped companies realize that they need to focus on mental health. This brought up a ton of programs in big companies which focused on mental health awareness in the last 2 years. Take full advantage of that.
Talk about your mental health. Make sure people know how you feel so you do not suffer alone. People totally understand what you are going through and most people will try and help or at least listen to you. Talking about mental health and making it a normal thing to talk about is how we will all get better, or at least will help. We need to look out for each other and make sure we are all ok. Mental health is such an important thing to focus on and I hope to be one to help.
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Thank goodness I am actually excited to blog again and the creative juices are flowing. I am coming out of a bit of a funk which has been very nice. Hopefully my mental state continues to improve as I’ve had a rough couple of months. You can read about the end of my doctorate here. It was stressful lol. Anyway, I will continue to keep blogging and help out as best I can. Peace!