11 Mental Health Memes for the New Year
Let’s face it: it can be tough to enjoy the new year when you’re battling your mental health.
Then again, getting caught up in all the optimism and overly ambitious resolution-making isn’t necessarily healthy either!
Let’s take a look at the new year through the lens of depression and anxiety — with a cheeky eye. Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine!
Easy Peasy Mental Health?
It happens to so many of us: starting the new year with a burst of optimism and positive energy. Sometimes it lasts, and sometimes it doesn’t.
We can use this burst to make some changes in our lives, but the danger is making the wrong changes. In the rush of positivity, we might make some unrealistic or even harmful resolutions.
Depression and Anxiety Shortcuts?
Yep, I’m totally making fun of myself for continuously recommending eating salmon for better mental health on my own blog. I love me some salmon! (And yeah, it is definitely a “good mood food,” but no amount of salmon or walnuts can win the battle against depression and anxiety by themselves.)
Mental health superfoods and wellness trends like coloring, gratitude and Epsom salt baths are all well and good (I legit love all of them!), but don’t let them distract you from the real goal: developing genuine, solid-foundation, resilient mental health.
Smash All the Social Anxiety!
Social anxiety — not to mention plain old depression and anxiety — certainly gets in the way of reaching those goals, doesn’t it?
Does that mean goals are useless? Nope. But let’s not set ourselves up for failure. Find the sweet spot between meaningful and achievable resolutions.
And remember — be gentle with yourself. Don’t push yourself too far or too hard in pursuit of a goal. Your mental health comes first.
Meditation? Yeah, That’ll Happen.
It’s true: I’m a mental health blogger who hates meditating. *Gasp!*
(I’ve tried so many times. But seriously, it’s just not my thing — and that’s OK.)
Luckily, there are so many ways we can lower our stress levels and develop coping strategies. Yoga not working for you? Group therapy not your jam? Relaxing music stressing you out? Figure out what works for you, and don’t feel bad for it.
(And hey, it’s great to try new things — good on you for trying.)
Resolutions Are Coming
Have you ever tried not making new year’s resolutions? Ouch, you really feel like the odd one out. In the coming weeks, resolutions and unrealistic goals will be all around us.
I’m as guilty of making unrealistic resolutions as anyone. Yoga every day? Become a morning person? Come off antidepressants?
Well thought-out goals are good; “S.M.A.R.T” goals. Unrealistic goals? They just hurt us, our self-esteem and our determination when we don’t accomplish them.
Oversharing! Just as Good as Therapy
I love me some real, deep therapy, but wow, it sure takes a ton of effort.
Did you try therapy in 2018, or will try in 2019? Congrats! It’s tough work, and expensive to boot (both financially and emotionally).
In the meantime, I’ll be here oversharing on Twitter and avoiding my (actually awesome) psychologist (who has pink hair and adorable bee tattoos).
Unwelcome Depression and Anxiety Advice
Ugh. Don’t you just love it when people “suggest” you stop taking medication for your mental illness? It happens even more this time of year.
(It’s even worse when other people with mental illnesses do this.)
We are all on our own journeys with depression and anxiety. Some of us take meds, some don’t. Some stop and start over and over again. We try different meds. Meds stop working; we try other things.
I personally have a goal to reduce my dose of antidepressants this year. I fully intend to do it carefully and responsibly, with supervision. Will it work? I don’t know. If it doesn’t, I’ll stay on them — and I won’t feel bad at all.
(Apologies to anyone named Susan…)
Totally Legit Coping Mechanisms
My new year’s resolution is quitting sugar to help calm my anxiety and fatigue-related depression. Yes, I’m really going to try. Will I still want to eat chocolate and cake to cheer myself up and fight stress? Yep. Will I give in sometimes? Absolutely.
It’s tough coping with depression and anxiety every single day. Those unhealthy coping mechanisms have helped us survive. No wonder we don’t want to give them up!
So don’t feel too bad if you can’t give up all your bad habits in one year.
Congrats, You Played Yourself
Anxiety superpower: jumping to conclusions in a single leap!
Depression and anxiety make it really hard to keep our reactions and emotions under control, especially if we feel threatened in some way.
We know logically that not everything is about us, and logically that it’s probably not that bad, but our brains conveniently “forget” this sometimes.
So despite our best intentions, yeah, we’re going to overreact to things in 2019. We’re gonna jump to conclusions. If it happens less than in 2018, that’s progress.
Dance to Your Own Song
It sometimes feels like all those new year’s resolutions are out of reach for those of us with depression and anxiety.
Go to the gym every week?
Make new friends or find a new relationship?
Ask for a raise or get a higher paying job?
Stop eating all junk food and cook from scratch?
These are hard enough for people who aren’t battling mental illness. Building new habits is hard. Creating lasting change is hard.
I mean, forget asking for a raise at work — I’ll be happy if I take less days off because I don’t want to get out of bed.
If you want to make resolutions, make ones that mean something to you, and ones that fit with your journey.
(And no, you don’t have to share them with pushy drunk relatives on New Year’s Eve.)
Cheers to You, Mental Illness
All those challenges you faced in 2018? Those triggers, the things that scared you, the things you avoided? They’ll probably still be around in 2019.
Oh, and new challenges will appear too.
I don’t mean this in a negative way. I’m not even telling you to “be realistic.” I’m acknowledging that we don’t recover from depression or anxiety overnight. And you know what? That’s OK.
We’ll face those challenges and we’ll survive. We’ll sharpen our coping skills and learn new ones. Yes, it’ll be tough. It’ll be scary.
We’ll do it anyway.
Follow this journey on The Brave and Strong.