Existing in the Pain

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*DISCLAIMER* I want to start by saying that I am not by any means a mental health expert. All that I write about comes from my personal experiences and observations of the mental health community around me. If you feel in any way that you are hopeless, worthless, or struggling, you need to consult a professional. Also, if you are experiencing an emergency, know that there are resources at your fingertips (The Crisis Center hotline’s number is 1 (800) 273-8255 or you can’t text “home” to 741741).

A couple weeks ago I watched a TedTalk on YouTube that really struck me. The title simply was, “I was almost a school shooter” by Aaron Stark. I do not want to get into the full explanation of the video because I feel that I cannot do justice to his story. But the moral of the story simply comes down to that we need to show more love. Now, I am not here to discuss my feelings on gun control, school shootings, and their relations to mental health. I want to dissect one phrase Stark brought up that really tugged at my heartstrings.

 “Exist in the pain.” 

In life, you will always have ups and downs (insert cliche about life being a rollercoaster). When you are in the downs of the ride, people tend to just tell you to think about the next up, but they don’t usually tell you what to do when you are stuck at a low. Unfortunately, pain and suffering are a given in life.  It is important to realize you are not defined by your highs or lows, but how you get from one low to the next high. The problem is sometimes we don’t know why we are stuck. We could have experienced one bad event that sends us down the twisting ride down, but sometimes we just end up there. Or even we’ve been low for so long, we don’t even remember what got us there.

I want you to know that that’s okay. You don’t have to justify your emotions. You are entitled to feel. I’ve been through the highs and lows, and there were a couple of times, I didn’t see a high in sight. As hard as it is, though, you need to remind yourself that all things are temporary. That means whatever you are feeling or experiencing will not be permanent. There is no timetable to how long it lasts, but it is not forever, good or bad.

When you are in the low depressed stages of life, it is hard to get out of bed or do any of your regular daily duties; however, you have to recognize your small victories and find joy in little things. These small victories can so minute such as getting up in the morning and making your bed or calling an old friend.

5 Small Activities to Celebrate as Victories

  1. Meditate– It is not as hard as you think, I promise. Watch this simple meditation to get your breathing in check.
  2. Exercise for 20 minutes– You don’t need to push yourself too hard, but getting your heart rate up and endorphins running will give your body love and help clear your mind.
  3. Take a hot shower– My dad has always told me that you will never come out of a shower feeling worse. Add in a face mask and light a candle, and you have great self-care time.
  4. Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for– This is a good practice to remind yourself that there is good around you, even when you think there isn’t.
  5. Learn something new– At one of my lowest times, I taught myself how to knit. I don’t really do it much now, but it helped my anxiety a lot at the time. Try not to pick something too difficult, just something to keep you moving.

Just know that you are never permanently stuck. Things will get better, but it takes more time than you might think. Make your goal to take care of yourself, and live in the moment. Remember, you are worthy of love.

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