Do This When Your Mental Health Feels Overwhelming

As a woman of color with a mental health condition, I have had a lot of difficult days and big, scary feelings over the years. Oftentimes, I am left confused, angry, and just plain terrified. It makes me wish I could disappear forever and never look back. I’m not saying that I want to die, but I can’t stand living like this either. It is purely hell. When moments such as these happen, it is good to have a contingency plan in case of mental health emergencies.

But what do you do when you’ve exhausted most of your usual options and self-care techniques? What do you do when you’re not quite suicidal but still not okay either, especially if it’s late at night and everyone around you is unavailable?

First, take a step back and breathe. You’re still here. Don’t give up just yet. Don’t make permanent decisions about temporary feelings and events. Give yourself time to cope. You’re only human and allowed to feel your feelings, even the scary ones.

Then think of one more thing. Just one. Give yourself a time limit of no more than 10 to 15 minutes so that it doesn’t seem too overwhelming. After that, take another deep breath. Check in with yourself. Did what you do work? How do you feel? Write it down if you can.

Then breathe and ask yourself, “What is most important for me at this moment?” Try to find a healthy action to take that treats you in the most loving, nurturing way that you deserve to be treated. I like to use a facial mask or paint my nails in a fun color.

If that doesn’t work, try to seek support from a trusted person or therapist. Drink a glass or a bottle of water and make some important calls or text messages.

If you truly feel that you are still in crisis, reach out to your country’s crisis line for mental health for additional resources and support. Remember that these people are professionals and are trained to help you and are only looking out for your safety.

Remember that you are valuable and worthwhile and that you are never alone. Everyone has dark days in their lives. What matters is how you act during these times. You are stronger than you think.

I wish you all the best. Take care of yourself and stay safe. Dealing with mental health issues is a lifelong battle, but you don’t have to suffer forever. There is always hope. As Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series says, “But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” It’s time for your light to shine.