As LGBTQ+ people, it is said that we are more susceptible to issues with our mental health, feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and so much more. Discussing and sharing how we are feeling is crucial to making sure we are feeling happy about things, especially after this past year.
I wanted to write this article to show it’s ok to talk about how you feel. To even say “I don’t feel ok today.” It’s ok to say that you need help. You are not being weak by admitting you are not feeling good about things. You are making positive steps to move forward in the journey of your own mind and happiness. If you drop a pebble into a pond, the ripples will go out far and wide. Making sure you are in a happy mindset will help you treat others and fundamentally treat yourself well.
As we approach one year of these restrictions it’s time to reflect on the impact this crazy period has had on our mental health. One of the hardest things about the lockdown for me personally is the change in my sleep patterns. Rather than my previous deep slumber state, where aliens could attack and I wouldn’t even have noticed, I now fall into a weird half-sleep half-awake state. I am aware of my body and where I am but I am asleep. I fall in and out of this state about four times each night. Although I have always had these lucid dreams ever since I can remember, I realise it has ramped up more during lockdown.
I find myself having to force my mind into a good place after periods of isolation.
I live alone yet the feeling of loneliness is one I have only started to experience recently. Before the restrictions came into place I was able to trick my mind into not feeling alone. There was always a place or person to see. I never got to the stage where I felt isolated… but this lockdown changed that. Trying to find mechanisms to cope with the lockdown was challenging but necessary.
I have found that long walks bring peace to my mind that I never appreciated before. I have walked all around my area and discovered some amazing places that I didn’t ever realise pre-lockdown. These solo walks have allowed me to think about my goals and aspirations. The walks with friends allow me to share, laugh and discuss plans. It’s strange to me that although this has been the toughest period I have ever had to deal with it has also been a period where I have truly learnt to find inner peace.
One of the hardest elements of lockdown has been dealing with people’s behaviour patterns; understanding and acceptance. There have been times when I have struggled with the energy of others. I try not to see life as a battle, war or competition. I see life as a journey of laughter, adventures and experiences. Sadly, that’s not always the case for others. I try to empathise with these individuals. Everyone is going through a difficult time and I am learning to forgive, reflect and let go. It has become a critical mantra to abide by this past year that I will be taking into the future.
Anxiety is a feeling that I have experienced in the past but I’d never let it get to a stage where I was consciously aware of it. Throughout the last 12 months, I have felt my anxiety levels grow to a point which means I am now having to put measures in place to make sure my mind is in a good place. I bought myself a journal and as things were starting to worry me and I would write these things down as a way to find calm in a situation. Taking care of your mind is so important. Taking measures to bring happiness to your thought process is something I encourage everyone reading this to try and do every day.
One of the things that has really helped me over the last 12 months is focusing on a future plan and personal goal. Thinking of something you really want to do or achieve and putting the right steps and measures to get there. It might be that country you have always wanted to visit or you are looking to purchase your first property. Research the steps you need to take to achieve this goal and start making moves towards it. These might be the smallest of steps but you will still be closer to the goal than you were previously.
Another area of self-care is monitoring your thoughts. Reading and recognising triggers that lift your mood or you know will make you smile are essential. Go for a walk with that one friend you know will always put a smile on your face.
Taking steps to protect my mental health is about making sure there are no barriers to my own sense of peace and happiness. I want to make sure even through a period of adversary that it doesn’t turn into a fear of flying.
As we start to approach the end of this lockdown period, we can start to really examine who we are and what we want out of life. What is it that makes you happy and how will you achieve that goal? What are the things that make you positive and keep you connected to this reality?
I love to travel, as you will have gathered from previous articles of mine, and thinking about all the places I can’t wait to visit brings a feeling of joy to my mind. Picking a destination, rocking up to the airport, and getting a pre-departure drink are all things I can’t wait to do again. Focusing on the little things can go along away into making sure your mind is in a good place.
I wanted to share this because I think it’s important. This year has challenged us all in different ways. Finding the right mechanism that helps you cope and that will bring you out the other side feeling better than ever has never been so important.
I hope that reading this brings calm to anyone who may be feeling this way and you realise that, most importantly, you are not alone.