I have a confession to make: I failed my mental wellness challenge.
But that’s not what I want to focus on here. Sure, in one way I did fail. I made a plan; I made a commitment; and, I bailed. The truth is that I was okay for the first couple of days, completing my goals, but then it began to stress me out. I felt pressured, confined, and frustrated about how panicked I was feeling about completing a simple action. It didn’t make sense. And I just began to feel worse and worse about myself. Not exactly the goal of a mental wellness challenge, right?
As you might imagine, I decided that the best thing I could do for my mental health was to stop the challenge. Because for me that took courage. That was self-care. And I did it.
So, yes, I failed my mental wellness challenge, but I regained some courage by doing what was best for me—regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.
All that said, in this period of intense self-reflection (which still occurred, even though I wasn’t writing about it in an aesthetically-pleasing manner), I did find some new coping methods:
- I get really impatient with people sometimes, like completely irrationally. And usually I’d just fume about it and stress-clean or exercise, but the other day, I just stretched out across the bed, stared at the ceiling, popped in my headphones, and listened through an album. I couldn’t remember the last time (probably since I was a teenager) that I just listened to a CD all the way through. Immediately, my mind became quiet, my heart rate slowed, and I felt peaceful. So, am I returning to 2003? Maybe. But I’m totally okay with that. (For honesty’s sake, I blissed out to a Nirvana album, hehe, but I did make a worship playlist during this time of reflection that has brought me a lot of comfort.)
- When I was keeping up with a trigger tracker, I noticed that my anxiety peaked right around 8am, 11am, 12:30pm, 5pm, and 8pm—both before and after mealtimes. I learned that I need to be active before and after mealtimes (preferably outside). So I’ve started gardening or walking/biking/hiking, etc during those times. It keeps my mind-body busy, and prevents me from sitting in the kitchen obsessing.
These revelations might seem minor, but they were breakthroughs for me, and I couldn’t be prouder of my “failure.”
All of this to say, YOU DO YOU.
Listen to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be proud of yourself. We all bloom in different ways and at different speeds. What matters is that we are all trying to grow, together. Each day is a chance to make better choices, and trust in the Lord’s mercies.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. | Lamentations 3:22-23
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.