What are you waiting for? Start the conversation.
Talking about mental health or mental illness has always been such a taboo topic. It’s like talking about girls getting their periods and people get all squirmy. It happens. It’s a part of human nature. Now let’s move on.
I think it’s super important to be honest about your mental health. Some people ignore how they’re feeling because they don’t know how to process it, and people tell them to “suck it up” or “you’re just faking,” and it makes them question themselves.
Sometimes I find myself asking, “Am I allowed to be this sad? Why do I want to kill myself? I’m stupid and I have no reason to feel this way. I’m pathetic.”
I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for almost my whole life. (Editor’s Note: Erin is not alone. Many equestrians suffer from mental illness. I, myself, also suffer from depression and anxiety, as well as a slew of other issues). As I got older, it got progressively worse.
One major thing I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be okay. This will help get you through everything. Everyone has their demons, their bad days, the days they wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Everyone. Even the President. It all comes down to how you handle it.
Here are my tips for handling those days that seem like the end of the world:
- Confide in someone. I can’t stress this enough. Talk to someone. Communicate. If you don’t want to talk about it, then text. I’m positive that you have at least 3 people that really care. (If you’re reading this and you’re an equestrian, your trainer could/should be automatically #1.) I know some people don’t have that type of relationship with their trainer, and that’s okay.
- Write your feelings down. If you’re in a bad mood, write down all your frustrations on paper, then rip the paper up. You can also burn the paper (if you’re able to do so safely) or rip it up and flush it down the toilet.
- Draw or color. Invest in one of those adult coloring books that’s a huge trend right now! They’re like $10 at your local CVS or Michaels (Editor’s Note: For Harry Potter nerds, did you know there is a Harry Potter coloring book? You can get it here. You’re welcome). You can also get them on Amazon. This has helped me through numerous anxiety attacks. When you’re able to focus your mind on something that’s not the problem, or the anxiety if you don’t know what exactly is causing it, it helps.
- Listen to your favorite band/artist/song a million times. When I’m sad, I listen to Demi Lovato and All Time Low on repeat. It’s good for the soul. (Editor’s Note: Another good song is Swim by Jack’s Mannequin. While he wrote it about fighting cancer, I think the lyrics also apply to someone dealing with mental illness or any chronic illness. “You gotta swim, swim when it hurts…“)
- *Trigger Warning* For those who deal with self harm, an eating disorder, or any other type of addiction: I promise that hurting yourself is not the answer. You are a beautiful and wonderful human being. I understand first hand how this can be an addiction, but it doesn’t always have to be. I know there’s not always a rhyme or reason for why you do it, and that sometimes you can’t control it, and that’s okay. Just know that you’re worth SO much more than hurting yourself. Recovery is possible, and it can happen. Keep fighting.
- Seek a therapist. I know this isn’t for everyone, but sometimes talking to someone you don’t know can make you feel better. They want to help you, and they are trained to as well.
Remember: The internet can’t diagnose you. Any mental health concern such as depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, self injury, suicidal thoughts, bipolar, etc. should be taken seriously, and it is advised you seek medical attention as soon as possible. This post is not meant to provide medical advice or take the place of a licensed doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
Above all else, remember one thing: Recovery is possible.
Here are some hotlines for anyone who may need them. Never be afraid to reach out for help.
Adolescent Suicide Hotline : 1-800-621-4000
Adolescent Crisis Intervention & Counseling Nineline: 1-800-999-9999
Eating Disorders Center: 1-888-236-1188
Help Finding a Therapist: 1-800-THERAPIST (1-800-843-7274)
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
Panic Disorder Information Hotline: 1-800- 64-PANIC
Self-Injury (This is for information only and NOT a crisis line. This number will provide information and referrals only): 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
Suicide & Crisis Hotline: 1-800-999-9999
Suicide Prevention – The Trevor Help Line (Specializing in gay and lesbian youth suicide prevention): 1-800-850-8078
IMAlive: An innovative online crisis chat with trained volunteers to help talk you through a crisis.
Teen Helpline: 1-800-400-0900
Youth Crisis Hotline : 1-800-HIT-HOME
Additionally, therapists available through apps or online chats have become super popular as of late. You can google online therapist or online psychologist to find an app that works for you. You can get mental illness help from the comfort of your own home, which is especially useful for those who are unable to leave the house for whatever reason. Two I recommend are Talkspace, which is $25 a week, billed monthly, and 7 Cups of Tea, which is free and allows you to chat with a trainer listener, psychologist, or counselor who specializes in your particular crisis.