We all face challenging times once in a while. I myself have had a very bad couple of weeks, worse than I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t eat for days, and I couldn’t even find peace in video games. Some days I was so anxious I couldn’t focus on anything, other days I was so depressed I didn’t have the energy to do anything. My work suffered, which only served to cause me to spiral even more.
It was a full on mental health crisis!
But here I am, on the other side of it. I’ve still got some work to do to get back to where I was, but I can function again. My appetite still isn’t 100%, and I need to be careful about what I eat. I’m also still struggling to enjoy the things I normally enjoy. But, for the first time since this whole thing began, I see some hope on the horizon.
It wasn’t an easy journey to get here, to find hope. But I learned a lot about myself, and what I need. So, I wanted to share some of those things that helped me get through, and continue to get through, this extremely challenging time.
Quality Sleep is Essential
I think we underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep, and how much it can affect us both physically and mentally. Maybe poor sleep isn’t going to cause a mental health crisis, but it will certainly make it nearly impossible to manage.
If you find yourself in a crisis, look at your sleep habits. Are you not sleeping enough? Are you sleeping too much? Do you wake up feeling rested, or do you wake up wanting to go back to sleep?
If you can’t get a good night’s sleep, you won’t be well-equipped to tackle your mental health. It’s certainly possible, but in my experience I’ve found it to be an uphill battle.
Go Easy on Your Stomach
This is probably good advice in general, but pay attention to how the food you eat affects you. Avoid junk food, fried food, anything that might give your stomach trouble. The stomach and brain are connected, and stomach discomfort can make things very difficult for the brain. But not eating is also not going to help you, and will leave you feeling drained.
Eat simple foods and veggies, and drink plenty of water. Be kind to your stomach. Don’t force yourself to eat, but start out eating a little here and there. Some food is better than no food.
Change Up Your Hobbies
I can only speak for myself here, but I usually get pretty intensely into a handful of hobbies. My 2 main hobbies are playing video games, and listening to records. These are usually my go-to hobbies, but the problem is when I’m in a funk and can’t really find joy in these things that usually bring me comfort, I don’t really have anywhere to turn.
If your hobbies just aren’t doing it for you, and you just can’t seem to bring yourself to enjoy them, perhaps it’s time to give your brain some novelty, and try something new, or dive back into an old hobby.
I started reading a book, something I’ve been awful at doing the last several years, and I’m actually feeling engaged in something for the first time since my crisis started. I’ve read over 230 pages in 5 days, which is a really solid pace for me, and it’s felt great.
For you, though, it doesn’t have to be reading. Just something different from your usual, something to give your brain a bit of novelty, so you can engage and (hopefully) have some form of escapism.
Take It One Day at a Time
It sounds cliché, but you really do need to just take recovery a day at a time. It’s overwhelming to think to yourself, “I need to survive this week.” Instead, focus on surviving today.
When dealing with a mental health crisis, that should be your one job: survive the day. Maybe it sounds dramatic, but when we’re that low, it can feel like we’re literally struggling for our lives. In a way, we are. Maybe it’s not life-or-death, but it’s at the very least a fight for our quality of life.
What it takes to survive the day can mean different things to different people. For me, it’s been waking up on time, working to the best of my abilities, and taking care of myself, all while trying not to have a panic attack or a depressive episode.
Don’t Do It Alone
I’ve been hesitant about adding this bit of advice. I realize how fortunate I am to have a support network who cares about me, but as someone who lives alone I also understand how damaging loneliness can be, and I realize not everybody has the luxury of a strong support network. So, I realize I am coming from a place of privilege here, but I still think this is an important piece.
I can’t understate how vital connection is, especially when in a crisis. If you have a support network, reach out to them. If you don’t, reach out to a therapist, find a support group, do whatever you can to find supportive connections because we’re not meant to face challenges alone.
You are amazing!
You are resilient!
You are strong!
Navigating a mental health crisis is scary. It can fill us with dread and hopelessness. But the fact that we can keep carrying on—and trust me, you will carry on—makes us strong. Even the darkest moments, when it all just feels pointless, and we start to believe this cloud over us will never fade, we are strong enough to push back. Even if we don’t believe in ourselves.
Because, you know what? Our brains lie, and tell us things are worse than they are.