Mental Health & Spirituality: A Journey to Balance
Spirituality is not a substitution for mental health care but it can be a very valuable asset to your healing. As someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder six years ago, I can tell you that my spirituality has helped but it has not been the crutch that I used to get through the hard times. My faith may have seen me through but faith and spiritual practice are not one in the same. If you are someone who battles with mental health and staying in balance spiritually, keep reading!
We ALL Need TherapyTherapy looks like different things to different people but the fact of the matter is this: we can all benefit from a bit of therapy and there are so many options available to us. There's traditional talk therapy, art therapy, group therapy, remote therapy. There are even apps and chat therapy services now! And therapy is truly what you make it. If you are going through a specific issue you can do a few sessions with a definitive end date in mind or if you have an situation that is more ongoing you can keep a standing appointment. Finding a therapist isn't always easy, especially as people of color, however there are great sites like the Therapy For Black Girls directory where you can filter and find therapists by state. Don't beat yourself up about getting it right on the first try. Each session with a therapist is always a learning experience and a chance for you to gain valuable insight about yourself and your preferred treatment methods. Even if you don't mesh well with that particular therapist commit yourself to the process, document everything and keep trying!
Figure Out Your Triggers
The word 'triggered' is such a low level joke these days among certain circles but people really do have triggers. We all have things that set us off and even the most enlightened folks spazz out from time to time. To wild out is human! But if you know what sets you off then you have the power to analyze your gut reactions and set up contingency plans for yourself to minimize self harm. Ultimately, your mental health is your responsibility . Others can help you but this is your path to journey and while I believe no person is an island self awareness is key. If you find that too much bickering on social media causes your anxiety to sky rocket or set your nerves on edge or too much sugar or caffiene makes you jittery, put measures into place so you can take a moment to recalibrate your scales and bring things back to a place of peace and balance. Oftentimes, we are not even conscious of these things but with patience and diligence we can learn to mitigate our triggered responses.
Identify Your Coping Mechanisms
Real talk: some of our coping mechanisms are unhealthy as f*ck. Your coping strategy should be a blend of habits that foster health and consistency. This isn't to say that a getting an 8th of really good bud isn't a damn good strategy (because if you smoke then you know the power of a good joint!) but be mindful of leaning on any one method too much. Rotate your strategies and be willing to try new and different things from time to time. For me, I need sunlight and physical movement. I might not like to work out but I can take long walks, dance in my undies in my room or take a day to leisurely lounge at the beach or a pool. I also like to veg out on Netflix and take naps but if I find myself sleeping all day I will make it my business to at least get dressed and go for a walk. It's really about having a toolbox of proven methods that help lift your moods and keep your hormones in balance.
If you've made it this far then you might've noticed that I haven't mentioned spirituality once in all of this. To be fair and all the way real: your faith and spiritual practices are only as good as your self-discipline. That might not sound that exciting but it's the truth. This isn't to say that you shouldn't pray in times of trouble; pray and keep an attitude of gratitude. However, if you are working candles, jars, baths, herbs, roots or altars and your energy is chaotic you stand to do more harm than good. Take it from someone who's been manic and who has called herself doing spellwork at the same time: don't do it! The only thing I would recommend while having any type of episode is ancestor work and white baths. When you are depressed, manic or in a state of extreme anxiety, the last thing you want to do is any spiritual work that's too taxing or demanding. Your main focus should be getting back into a place of peace and equilibrium. I wouldn't even recommend getting readings during this time unless you've already gotten a reading from that particular person in the past.
Sometimes we want answers when times are dark but what we need to do is pull our energy inward and strengthen ourselves so we can clear a bit of the fog and take healing and restorative steps. Take a little time to journal, unplug from social media for a bit and get some rest. If you feel you need medical attention then do that but always operate with safety in mind. Straight up!
I'll be doing more blogs on mental health and spirituality but I hope this was a good introduction to the topic. Let me know how you felt about this and if you'd like to see more posts like this in the future. We're all in this together and when we are healthier as individuals we are stronger as a community.