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3 Things to Remember When You're Having a Bad Mental Health Day

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Are you having a bad mental health day? You can call them “bad days.” I call them “dips in the road.” A dip assumes that you are going to come back up again, that’s why you call it a dip. You might see that as insignificant, but it isn’t to me. To me, it’s a complete change in mindset.

You’re going to have good days, and you’re going to have bad days. Ups and downs. Dips. It’s all part of the healing process. My journey with depression has had lots of dips.

I work in the healthcare industry — physical therapy to be specific. In the 10 years that I’ve been doing this, I can’t remember one patient of mine that has had a flawless recovery. Injured bones, muscles, joints, and nerves in your body don’t heal in a perfect, linear way. You have days when it hurts more, for no reason at all, and days when you just don’t have the energy you did the day before. The mind is similar in that way, but even more complex regarding recovery. Everyone has bad days, even “normal” people (whatever that means). So it isn’t the end of the world when you have one too. Easy to say, hard to do, right?

Here are three things to consider. Write them down and put them in a place where you can return when you’re going through a dip. 

1. Don’t expect too much of yourself.

Allow yourself space to heal and room to grow. Step back from what you’re going through at this moment and look at the big picture of your journey. Have some patience with the process. You aren’t a burden or an embarrassment. Hold on to what is true — the stuff that doesn’t change even when the circumstances do.

2. Surround yourself with people who know you and can be a steady influence when you feel like you’re going sideways.

Help them help you. Let them know the things to look for and what they can do to help you when they notice these things. They will feel empowered and equipped instead of feeling helpless.

3. It’s tempting and way too easy to put on the mask and pretend everything is OK.

Social media makes it seem like everyone has it together except you. Don’t fall for that. Wearing the mask doesn’t help you grow and it sure doesn’t help you on your journey. If anything, it halts your progress. Take off the mask instead. It’s liberating.

It’s OK to have a bad day. As I mentioned earlier, it would be abnormal (even impossible) to not have bad days. Focus instead on the good days, the progress you’ve made so far and the big picture. Flush the bad days and move on. It’s a dip in the road. They will come and go. That’s life. You’re a human, not a robot.

Unsplash photo via Artyom Kulikov

Originally published: November 4, 2018
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