BY ANDI LOPEZ
As the year comes to a close, it’s not uncommon to find yourself reflecting on the last 12 months of your life. Think about the good, the bad and... the ugly. These are all the things that have brought you to this moment - to the person you are today, and to the person you will become in the future.
When I look back on my past self, I think about where I was in my life this time last year. More specifically, how my mental health was.
Managing my depression and anxiety has been my main focus for 2018. Navigating my way through this ongoing process was quite daunting to begin with. Taking the first steps to looking after my mental health was like diving into deep, muddy, childhood-trauma-infested waters. I had to face issues and events in my life that I didn’t even know affected me as deeply as they did. And oh man, it wasn’t easy.
While going through therapy, there were a lot of moments where I felt that I had taken one step forward and a million steps back each time I was anxious or depressed. It was frustrating and I was so hard on myself that I couldn’t just “get better” straight away. What can I say - I’m impatient when I’m determined!
Now here I am, nearly a year later, writing about my experience from the other side of the dark tunnel. I’m going to tell you one of the most cliché things ever and you’ll probably hate me for it, but it honestly really does get better.
Although I believe that you can start whenever you want, the New Year is a perfect time to start fresh and set yourself some personal goals. “New year, new me,” right??
Most people hear the words ‘self care’ and what usually comes to mind is bubble baths and facemasks. That’s all well and good, but to me, self care is facing your fears in order to better yourself.
Opening up and talking to friends and/or family you trust is a step in the right direction. As difficult as it may be, it’ll help you feel less isolated and is a good start to building your support system. The more I talked to my friends about my experiences, I found that they were also going through similar things which not only allowed us to support each other even more, it also assisted in normalizing conversations about mental health.
Australians are privileged enough to live in a country that offers free health care so take advantage of this. Once I got my mental health plan from my GP, it took me months to even make an appointment with a psychologist. I did get there eventually and although I was shit scared at my first session, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Headspace is a youth mental health support service with centres all around Australia and is a great place to start if you aren’t exactly sure what kind of help you need. Everyone deals with things differently and needs to have support tailored for them. Headspace allows you to do just that. I didn’t feel restricted to the psychologist I was initially assigned to. When I found that we didn’t click, I simply requested to see a new one and it wasn’t a big deal at all (no matter how much my anxiety told me otherwise)!
You will always have moments where you feel like you’re taking one step forward and five steps back, but that doesn’t matter as long as you keep moving forward and facing your fears - progress is progress. Because at the end of the day, the choices that scare you the most are the ones that will help you grow.
Andi is a columnist for Maidenhair Press. She mainly writes about fashion and life advice as these are the things she is most passionate about. She also curates fashion shoots each issue for the magazine which you can find in her fashion columns and the gallery.