This one goes out to all those struggling to keep their mental health issues under control during these trying times.
I know it’s hard, because I’m having trouble too.
One of the first things I learned in treatment for anorexia, depression, and anxiety is to rely on support and structure and to avoid isolating. And boy, is everything in that respect sort of falling apart for me. Working from home, I lack the structure that typically filled my days: wake up, shower, head to the office, take a lunch break, head to the gym, come home, make dinner, watch TV or read, fall asleep. Rinse, lather, repeat. Instead, I live in this nebulous world where the office is also my home, my desk also my couch or my kitchen table. My “lunch break” has become “just move to another room for an hour.” I try to get out for a run or a walk once a day, but it seems odd, stilted and forced.
I’m lucky. I live with my partner so I’m not completely isolated. But the weird world in which we are living is wreaking havoc on my brain. My anxiety is in a constantly heightened state from both being terrified of going outside and being cooped up inside all day. And when my anxiety ramps up, my eating disorder thoughts rise up right along with it. Old habits are starting to creep out of the woodwork, and my brain has been oscillating between being afraid of relapse and fearing weight gain from lack of movement. I’m basically a big pile of anxiety, and the fact that we don’t know what the future will bring is compounding that pile. I’m an outsider, watching it grow exponentially while I feel powerless to stop it. But the thing is—I’m not powerless. And neither are you.
It sucks, having mental health issues. But there is a silver lining to all of this—because we have struggled, with have this extraordinary resilience, not to mention a toolbelt full of self-care items that we can utilize to quell the storm building in our brains and bodies. We just have to sit down, take a deep breath, and remember all of those techniques that we took years perfecting.
When everything feels like it’s falling down around me, I like to sit upright in a chair in a quiet room with both feet on the floor, and breathe. I close my eyes and mentally list three things I can feel. Three things I hear. Something I smell. I take a moment to fully grasp the floor with the entirety of my feet. To really feel myself in the moment. I count to ten, and remind myself that, though the world seems to be spinning around me, I am still, grounded, a tree in a storm. Though I may sway a bit in the breeze, I have deep roots. I am okay.
You’re okay too. It’s a nutty world out there, but don’t forget everything you’ve already lived through and gone through. You’re a warrior, and you’ll get through this too. Remind yourself of that every day, hour, minute, however long it takes until you believe it. Reach out to friends who will help remind you of your badassery. Because you are a badass, and you’ll make it through.
You’ve got this.
Kristy Cloetingh is a Philadelphia native who is currently trying to figure out her place in the world. Her passions include reading, singing, dancing, nature, yoga, chicken fingers, and puppies. An anorexia survivor and mental health warrior, Kristy has made it her life’s mission to remind every single person that their bodies and minds are worthy of unconditional love and respect, regardless of size, shape, or whatever “normal” is.