Have you ever felt so disconnected from everything that you feel like a small plankton in the ocean just floating around being tossed by the swells of the waves? You move effortlessly because you’re not putting any effort into being moved? The ocean is moving you and you have no control over where you’re going? Do you feel ever feel so small and insignificant that no matter what you do nothing will ever change? You’re just so small and powerless to the ocean that you succumb to all the pressures and just…float. And hope for the best?
Lately, I’ve been that plankton floating in the ocean. I’ve been 100% disconnected from myself, my mentality, my emotions, and my spirituality. I’ve been down and out. It’s been a struggle to keep myself going, day in and day out. My thoughts are overwhelming, my emotions are nonexistent, I’m feeling very confused and out of sorts, and I’ve all but given up on taking care of myself. My self-care is nonexistent. I’m stuck in a rut. Honestly, as I’m writing this, I’m finding it difficult to find the words…any words really.
I’m not sure when this all started, if I had to pinpoint it, I think it started a year ago in October. I just started feeling off. I went to visit a friend out of state at school and noticed I wasn’t laughing like I used to. And she’s one of the funniest people in my life so not laughing was a sign to me that something was off.
Not only have I not been laughing, I haven’t been feeling much of any emotion. I feel devoid of all emotion. I’m really struggling to feel. The best way to describe it is by saying I feel kind of like Dexter. Yes, the serial killer from the show we all know and love! Dexter explains that he doesn’t have feelings, but knows they’re normal for people to have, so he has to fake them. He has to pretend like he’s happy or sad to seem normal to people so he doesn’t blow his cover. That’s where I’m at right now. I used to have feelings. I used to have a LOT of feelings. But now, I’m just emotionless. Faking them left and right to appear normal to those around me.
Why is this happening? Where is this all coming from? Is it the depression, my meds, a combo?
I think it’s a combo of depression and meds. The medication I’m currently taking for Bipolar II is a mood stabilizer, therefore, it doesn’t allow me to feel extreme highs or lows. Unfortunately, it’s taken away any feeling of any high or low and has replaced it with no feelings whatsoever. Depression has me feeling low energy, low mood so on top of having no emotions I’ve been also hitting some unexpected lows. I don’t know exactly what’s causing this low for me, so I have to do some major soul searching.
What I do know is this; I cannot stay here. I cannot stay where I’m at. It’s not healthy or productive. So what do I do? I think the better question is what do WE do? I’m not the only one out there struggling. Especially this year. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get us out of this deep, dark pit we’re collectively sitting in right now:
First and foremost, we need to be practicing self-care. We need to get into a good routine of caring for ourselves so we can rewire our brains to focus more on the good and lessen the stress and anxiety in life. Well, that sounds great! But what is self-care? Self-care can actually be a myriad of things. It can be anything from taking a hot bath to finishing your taxes. For me, it’s a series of things that help bring me back to myself, back home. I like to take hot epsom salt baths, read, meditate, do yoga, read tarot, write in my journal, color, or spend time in nature. For a quick look at a great way to unwind with a self-care bath, check out my previous post, The Art of Self-Care.
Self-care is taking alone time to focus on solely yourself. Finding ways to care for yourself is one of the most important things you can do for you. Do some research, read a book, check out tips and tricks on Pinterest or the internet. What’s most important is that you do something small for yourself everyday so you don’t have to expend a lot of time and energy doing one large gesture when your world starts to fall apart. So take a moment, look at your daily schedule, and carve out some time to focus solely on you every single day.
Go to Therapy
I cannot stress this enough, I am 100% the type of person to suggest therapy to ANYONE and EVERYONE! I have to be careful, though, because not everyone believes in therapy, just like not everyone believes in God. However, in my own experience, over the last 10 years, I’ve come to really rely on therapy as a tool to help myself heal. I suggest therapy because change is hard. Especially by yourself. It’s not impossible, just challenging. Change is hard to begin with, but if you add mental health to it, it gets even more complicated. I truly believe that with a little bit of help from a third party, unbiased professional anyone can accomplish anything they set their minds to.
The trick with therapy, though, is you have to WANT to change. You have to WANT to work hard and try new things. You have to WANT to battle the uncomfortable and the dark within. If you go to therapy not wanting any of that, of course it won’t work. Therapists do not tell you what to do or how to live your life. They’re not there to give you the answer’s. Therapist’s true goal is to help you untangle the mess within your own head ON YOUR OWN through talk therapy and other therapies. They’re there for you. You set the pace, the schedule, and decide what needs to be worked on. They are solely there to help you find your own answers from within.
Thinking about therapy but don’t know where to start? Try PsychologyToday and get started on caring for yourself in no time. You will be asked to enter your mental health issues, your insurance provider, and the area in which you live. From there you can set a few more filters and find exactly what you’re looking for. That’s how I found Carolyn, my current trauma counselor. I know finding a therapist can be scary, and the first one isn’t always the right one, however, don’t give up. Happiness and health is just around the corner!
Spend Time with Friends
When you spend time with friends you create a sense of belonging. You avoid loneliness and create strong bonds with the people you cherish. Friends are there for you in times of need as well as times to celebrate. Their love for you is unconditional and can span oceans, if necessary. Having a close knit group of friends or maybe just one really good friend can make you feel worthy. Worthy of love, time, space, energy. The truth is, you are worthy! Friends just help you feel it a little more.
In a recent article I read about the importance of friendship it states: Friends can, “Increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost your happiness and reduce your stress, improve your self-confidence and self-worth, help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one, encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.” I find that to be absolutely fascinating! Who knew having friends could do so much?! For more information, read the full article here!
Exercise is crucial to mental and physical health. This is where I fall short almost every single day of my life. I do not exercise. For example, I’ll do yoga every now and again, and I’d consider that a form of exercise, but it needs to be routine. Routine exercise helps release endorphins and serotonin in the body causing us to feel happy, healthy, upbeat, and energized. It helps keep our minds and bodies in shape. Exercise pumps blood to the brain and helps us to think more clearly. It is recommended that you exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week so make sure to check your schedule and set aside time to move your body. Whether it’s running, yoga, cardio, or weight training. Get your body moving! Your mind (and body) will thank you.
Here’s another area where I fall short. Yes, I’m a pescatarian, but that doesn’t mean I eat all that healthy. I get so tired by the end of the day that I just don’t want to take time to make food so I’ll order out or make something easy…like Mac n Cheese! Yum!!
Anyway, a good, well rounded diet full of whole foods is essential to your mental health. Foods like fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to help our bodies function properly. If you continuously feed it processed foods your body is going to get bogged down, bloated, sore, irritated, tired, and just downright not work properly. Your mind will get foggy and you may have troubles controlling your emotions or staying focused. There’s a reason why whole foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, etc. are called brain food! They literally help support the function of your brain! And the rest of your body. So do yourself a favor (I will too) and put something healthy in that body of yours!
Get a Good Night’s Rest
Fiiiiinally, something I’m good at! I can get a full 8 hours of sleep like it’s nobody’s business. Hell I’ll take 9-10 if I can get it! It’s taken me a long time to get here but I finally made it. I might wake up a time or two but I fall right back asleep. After what I’ve lived with most my life, I’d call that successful.
After sleeping for 8 hours, your body should feel well rested and rejuvenated. Getting a full 8 hours of sleep can reduce stress and improve your mood. It can help you stay focused and reduce your blood pressure. There are so many benefits of getting a full night’s rest!
What happens when you can’t sleep? That’s something I’ve struggled with for years. What works for me may not work for you but there are so many things you can try. Spend time in nature everyday. Exercise daily to expend any of your extra energy. Meditate, stretch, or do a wind down yoga practice before bed. Come up with a nightly routine so your body starts to respond naturally to sleep. Try a breathing exercise to calm your body. Finally, speak to a doctor if none of these suggestions work. You could have a sleeping disorder that calls for therapy or medication and that’s definitely something to seek professional help for.
Putting it All to Work
This all seems like a lot to take on at once. Believe me, that’s why I’ve all but given up on taking care of myself. When you don’t keep up on taking care of yourself, you end up needing to do more to get yourself back to your own “normal”. That’s why I’m learning it’s crucial to keep up on all of these things in my life. Hang out with friends once a week. Practice self-care daily. Get 8 hours of sleep a night. They’re all important and beneficial to your health.
If this seems like too much, start with just one. Choose one place to start and go from there. Break it down into smaller, bite sized portions and it will be much easier to manage. For instance, if you’re struggling with sleep, a good way to start small is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day. Focus on just that, journal about it so you can track how it’s going, and stick to it. Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away. These things take time.
Right now, we’re going through one of the greatest collective traumas the world could possibly go through. A pandemic. It’s causing us to lose sleep, fall into depression, and fall out of our self-care routines. But now is the time when we need to care for ourselves the most. We need to heal what hurts and let go of those things that are no longer serving us. Take some time to think about yourself and your life and what you want it to look like. Make the changes that need to be made. Work as an individual to become strong enough to work as a team. Because in the end, aren’t we all just plankton floating in the ocean?
Love and Light,
One thought on “Plankton in the Ocean: Reclaiming your Mental Health”
I feel your hurt, I see your pain. I also see you making good decisions to move forward. Verbalizing your intentions push us to commit. Commitment brings forward progress. Progress in a solid step in the right direction. You are on your way. Love you!! 💕 Always and forever.
OO MOM XX