For the past week or so, there has been a lot of much-needed conversation on social media regarding mental health. Due to the fact that the annual World Mental Health Day is finally upon us, which happens to fall on October 10. Also, Americans are in the midst of Mental Illness Awareness Week , which started on the seventh day of October, and will draw to an end on October 13th.

During these past few days, I have seen people I follow open up about their own struggles with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Which in turn has prompted me to reflect about my own personal journey and struggle with mental health.

To tell you the truth, my mental health began to deteriorate at the age of sixteen, which I have briefly opened up about in the past. After graduating from junior high school, I enrolled in a pre-senior high school programme for a year. Within that time, I began to succumb to the pressures of the world. On top of that, I felt as though I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, at least career wise. Feelings of inadequacy, and the need to be in control of all situations had become a constant. Also, I could not help but to worry over the fact that my teenage years were drawing to and end. I was not ready to let go of the shape shifting that comes along with teenage hood. In exchange for the sombreness disguised as responsibility that comes with growing up. 

Photo Credit: Valeriia Bugaiova

Although nonsensical, such worries began to take up a lot of space in my mind; to the point they began to consume me. Later on, they progressed to become ongoing panic attacks. Usually, it would begin in the early morning as a sharp pain in the centre of my chest. Then it would develop into a constriction that would leave me barely breathing.  When able to, I would reach out for my phone in hopes of searching for calming music on the internet to listen to. Playing it for some time would work, but not always. Other times, I would just lay in bed and cry it away. How I wish I had gathered the courage to seek professional assistance to equip me with the tools with which, I could have used to cope with what was anxiety. But had failed to perceive as such.

Although, I am no longer in that headspace as of late, there are times when thoughts of anxiety insist on creeping back into my mind. I find myself feeling not good enough or failing at this thing we call life. And when they do, I usually go back to re-read specific reassuring quotes taken from published books. Because there is something soothing and comforting, when someone else out there has best articulated what you need to hear most. Usually, I repeat the words to myself until I comprehend and internalize the message. Here they are: 

For self-assurance... 

The point is, you have family and friends who love you. You have a world out there just waiting for you to conquer it. You have a life that will be anything you make it. That's the point'', Malory Blackman.

For combatting analysis paralysis...

''Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don't stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just...start'', Ijeoma Umebinyuo.

For learning to accept what you cannot change...

''So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them'', Stephen Chbosky.

For dealing with heartbreak...

''This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something'', Elizabeth Gilbert.

...and dealing with challenges

''Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does'', Margaret Atwood.

For understanding that you have a say in living a life you love...

''For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you have never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have strength to start all over again'', F.Scott Fitzegerald.