Mental Health 2020 – It’s Time to Talk About It

Ok, real talk. Mental health is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, but very rarely have I sparked up conversations about it. Perhaps it’s because the stigma that surrounds the topic makes me feel like I’ll be judged if I tell anyone my own experiences, or maybe it’s because I feel as if people just don’t take it seriously. “They just want attention,” or, “they could just be happy if they tried harder,” are all things I have heard come out of peoples mouths when they are speaking about someone who is experiencing some sort of mental health situation. Looking back I feel guilty that I wasn’t more outspoken for what I believe in,  but instead of dwelling on the past and what could have been, I am going to focus on using my resources and voice to speak out and help others gain awareness and empathy. 

I consider myself a mentally strong person. I wasn’t always, and there are many contributing factors as to why I am the way I am today (that’s a story for another day). However, mentally tough or not, I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a real doozy for everyone and even the strongest people have felt their mental health wavering at times. So let’s talk about it. For me personally at the beginning of quarantine my day to day routine didn’t change much. I’m a 911 dispatcher and so I continued to work while a large portion of the work force stayed home. On my days off I never really went out too often because I was tired from my work week or because my introverted ways got the best of me, so the fact that business were closed never got to me either. That feeling of “I’ll be ok through this,” didn’t last. 

During the beginning of the pandemic my boyfriend and I had only been dating for a few months. It should have been the time where we were going out on dates, traveling, and exploring the world as we got to know each other. We tried to get as creative as we could for dates – we’d go on hikes and walks and whatnot, but as the world shut down more and more each week, so did our options for going out in any capacity. Our relationship never suffered and in some ways I feel as if this whole scenario made us grow stronger and closer as a couple, however I began to feel cooped up and claustrophobic even. Parks were closed, Doordash options were limited, and we were essentially stuck in my 600 square foot apartment. Work was another story. Every day I went in there were 10 new emails with new protocols we were to follow. Everyone was confused and overwhelmed, from my coworkers to the citizens calling in on 911. Fast forward a few months to the civil and political unrest, small businesses closing left and right, and now my home is quite literally surrounded by wildfire in every direction. It’s just been a lot and there hasn’t been even five minutes where I’ve felt like I can stop and catch my breath. 

I’ve constantly tried to put on a brave face and act like the world isn’t actively falling apart, but the truth is theres been many times the last few months in which I haven’t felt ok. I’m overall a very happy person, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy 100% of the time. During the last several months I’ve had bouts of anxiety where my heart is racing and I feel like I can’t breathe. I’ve felt lost, confused, and hopeless like there’s no point in trying anymore if this is what the world is going to be like. I’ve held back tears when I’m around people only to go running to my car and have a good cry while I’m driving home. Sometimes I don’t even know why I feel like crying, but I do, so I let it out and then move on. To be honest it’s still a little weird to share this with everyone, but this is my truth and I want to stress to everyone that it is ok to not be ok as they say. We are humans and we have feelings, and we are meant to process them, feel them, evaluate them, and then let them go. You are not weak because you’ve cried. You are not weak because you’ve felt hopeless. None of that makes you weak or less strong of a person. It takes guts to face your emotions head on.

So, back to 2020. Everyone is processing this year in their own unique way. I can’t tell you what everyone else is feeling, but I would put money on the fact that most people have felt down, anxious, or just not themselves at one point or another. And thats nothing to be ashamed of! We need to normalize the fact that happiness comes and goes, especially during these uncertain times. We also need to normalize the fact that everyone deals with life situations differently. Some people have been using their quarantine time to get fit and back in shape (spoiler alert – this is not me), and some people have had to process this year and not be quite as active and that is ok too. 

The bottom line is you need to take care of you. If you’re not feeling great one day, set aside time to do something that makes you happy – bake something, binge watch a show on Netflix, have a glass of wine, go on a walk by yourself. In unprecedented times like these it’s ok to be selfish every once in a while to take care of yourself and your mental well being. You can’t be expected to be ok 100% of the time, and there is nothing wrong with having some you time spent exactly how you want. Don’t compare yourself and how you are handling this year to others. We all react differently. Lastly, reach out and don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re doing. Mental health is prevalent in all our lives whether we realize it or not and we all experience ups and downs. Just because someone might appear ok on the outside, doesn’t mean they feel ok on the inside. So let’s promise ourselves that we will be better at reaching out to friends and families to check in. Let’s promise ourselves that we will make our own mental health and self care a priority. And let’s promise ourselves that we won’t be afraid to start conversations about mental health and talk about it. It’s 2020 and there’s no longer time for judgement and stigma’s. It’s time we breakdown barriers and lift each other up. 

Until next time.



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