Speaking out: Make a date with your mental health

Speaking out: Make a date with your mental health

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Roses are red and my mood is blue. Springtime has some lackluster holidays, or at least, they’re not as inclusive as the rest of the festive calendar. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Santa Claus season: Everybody gets in on the action. The entirety of summer is a holiday for me and my vitamin D-deficient body. But spring?

Spring is for people who like boiled eggs and jelly beans. Spring is for the neat freaks who don’t attach emotions to objects and can clean their house without worrying if their stack of Time magazines has feelings. Spring is the only time we find a cartoon depiction of an armed toddler romantic. Rabbits, Marie Kondo, Cupid. Spring is confusing. 

I was pretty excited to leave January behind. January bums me out. I’ve been struggling with mental health lately -- I’m in the midst of a lot of life changes, the local and national political climate weighs heavily on my mind, the final Star Wars installment had some fundamental flaws. I’m no stranger to seasonal depression or anxiety. We’re like roommates: We coexist and generally it works out, but sometimes they throw a party and I come home and they’ve broken all the neurotransmitters and nobody wants to address whose fault it is that the amount of dirty dishes in the sink is wildly unacceptable. Valentine’s Day complicates the winter blues cycle. On one end of cupid’s arrow, all the chocolate makes for accessible doses of instant, delicious serotonin bursts. On the other, the concept of love is a little too overwhelming when you’ve spent over a month with your brain whispering sweet little “you’re nothings” into your ear.

Valentine’s Day is marketed as a time for romantic love, which isn’t something easily acquired when the average dating profile includes a truck-interior selfie and a bio that simply reads “I dunno. Just ask.” So I wanted to focus on other kinds of love this year. A friend told me that she considers her true soulmates to be her close-knit group of pals who have a vast collective knowledge of one another’s in-jokes, bad habits, embarrassing high school stories, accomplishments, heartbreaks and coffee orders. She acknowledged her husband is a wonderful partner, but how can a spouse compare to a car full of friends belting out every single word of TLC’s "No Scrubs"?

I’ve been pretty open about my deteriorating coping skills, so even though I haven’t been able to show myself kindness, I’ve been surrounded by people who are showing me love in different ways. Texts reminding me to go to bed, or making sure I’ve sent an important email. One friend dropped off some homemade jambalaya, and another gave me a couple of oranges. This stuff probably sounds stupid or really self-indulgent. I’m an adult, why should I need to rely on others to remember something as basic as sleeping or eating fruit? Trust me, I’ve already scolded myself for these same things. The awful trick of mental health is often having the awareness that your behavior makes no sense, but at the same time you still can’t force yourself to reply to an email because what if that will cause something really, really, really, really bad to happen?

Rationality doesn’t get much air time when I’m in a depressive state. And because my anxiety is often focused on social acceptance, I can outwardly appear normal and high-functioning. As the attractive lead in a romantic-comedy script or the suspicious dude with a wedding ring on a dating app would say, “It’s complicated!” And so is the health care system when it comes to finding ways of covering the cost of therapy and medication.

The day of Eros can be tough, but dang it, I can’t help but indulge in a little bit of the sentimentals. It was inevitable that we’d end on a sappy note. Show somebody that you love them today. Little actions can make a major difference, the sun will come out tomorrow, and cheap clearance aisle chocolate is still chocolate.

If you’re experiencing difficulty with mental health, please reach out to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. Summer is on the way.

Kayla Schmidt is a freelance writer and creative collaborator with The Good Kids. She's a North Dakota boomerang: originally from Minot, she took a detour to study in England before settling in Bismarck.

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