Struggling with my Mental Health, Healing through Intentionality and Creativity
I woke up today with a thought, "I'm going to go on a walk.". So, I picked out the most athletic clothing pieces in my closet, grabbed my AirPods to listen to one of my favorite podcasts, @balancedblackgirl to accompany me along the way. During that time, I made space for self-reflection. Last month did numbers on my mental health, it had become one of hardest to endure in a long time. It stemmed from the pressures of work and school and that stress had spilled over into other areas in my life. I felt lost, sad, and angry, and I felt that I wasn't in control over any of it. As someone that internalizes, isolates and suffer in silence, I felt extremely hypocritical. I write blog posts about mental health and encourage my readers to take care of themselves, but I battled with doing that for myself.
Recognizing past history of dropping off the face of the earth, I reached out to those I've made commitments with about needing a break. Instead of not showing up, I emailed my professor about possibly resigning from graduate school and that was a last option for me. I told my mama about what I thought I needed to do, and her response was reassuring but the decision still remains unknown. I intended to go on leave from work, but I was denied. Something I could do was look for another job, but the daily thoughts of doubt, wondering if I could find something better was increasing but the most challenging was having a sense of fear to make a change when life outside of me was going under. All I could think about was, "I don't know how I'm going to get through the next month.". I was extremely overwhelmed. Time is a luxury I only longed for. I didn't have time to cook. I didn't have time to work out. I didn't have time to write and publish a blog post. I didn't have time for myself. Cranes in the Sky by Solange had become my theme song. No matter what I've done, that feeling would not go away. One of the things I struggle with is not knowing how to decipher if the decisions I made was through a clear mind or one solely out of emotion. I get why it's important to allow your feelings to pass, to perceive them as "visitors" but it was difficult because they had overstayed their welcome.
Last week after I returned from a mini vacay, I spent two days unpacking and mentally preparing myself to face those stressors again. The first day, I stayed in my room, rewatched Revenge, ordered food on Door Dash in complete isolation. The desire or motivation to do anything else was non-existent. I wanted to be left alone. The next day, I woke up and laid there quietly. I turned off the white noise that had played throughout the night while I slept. I had a decision to make, I can do homework as planned, or I can clean underneath my bed that I had been putting off for months now. I chose to participate in option two. Piles of paper, boxes filled with miscellaneous items, gift bags, etc. in disarray. I found myself reading journal entries and notes I wrote whether it was to vent, ideas that I wanted to achieve or pieces of inspiration that sparked the lack inside me.
Coming across an old blog post written in October 2020 titled, "Still Figuring Sh*t Out", I read an affirmation or a statement I wrote, "I may not have all of the answers right now, but I trust that it will find its way to me. I may not be where I want to be right now but thankfully, I am not where I used to be. It is okay that I am still figuring sh*t out.". I needed that. I've come to terms that it may not go away entirely but I have been here before even though circumstances differ, it's up to me on how I choose to handle it. I continued to throw things I no longer needed in the trash and organized the mess that has been swept under the rug. I discovered what I had been missing. First, a confirmation. When there's clutter and disorganization in your physical space, there's a connection to your mental space. Second, all of the passion and excitement, and creative thinking through my plans, proposals and notes were stored away underneath my bed. I whispered, what happened to her? I experienced the impact of its inactivity. Third, I wasn't alone. Articles in Essence magazines written by Black women about Black women and their struggles with anxiety and the ways to help like giving yourself grace, moving your body or how to spark joy through welcoming change and setting intentions served as reminders.
To move forward in optimizing my mental health through creativity, I started with a new vision board. The one I previously created had been tucked away. I wanted to focus on what I really wanted to see come into fruition for myself such as allowing myself to love and be loved, traveling and exploring new places more which doesn't have to be as grand. I want to cook more; I love trying and recreating recipes and sharing that process with the world. I want to repurpose old furniture. I want to include more color in my wardrobe like lavender, sky blue and yellow. I want to take inspirational photographs. I want to spend more time outside. Some of what I had listed were done before but somewhere I stopped doing them. Overall, I want to create and live the dreams and visions I have in my head. How I can achieve healing through creativity is simply by doing those things intentionally. I wouldn’t say this is the end all be all to what I’ve experienced but taking time out for what brings me joy would elevate my well-being for the better.