There is so much hype around the word health; is it a number on the scale, is it a size of clothing is it a special diet? The definition of healthy in Merriam-Webster is: enjoying good health, free from disease, not displaying clinical signs of disease or infection, beneficial to one’s physical, mental or emotional state, showing physical, mental or emotional well-being.
If health includes the mind and emotions, how does one get healthy in this area?
I accepted depression as a permanent part of my life. I never knew I could actually get healthy in my mind. I was diagnosed with major depression and started anti-depressants in 2001, right after 9/11. I would like to say that the anti-depressants cured my depression and I never had symptoms again, but that didn’t happen. In fact, I had switched prescriptions multiple times, I tried combining multiple prescriptions, I tried counseling and ultimately I accepted that depression was my forever companion. From 2001 to 2017 I had multiple breakdowns, suicidal thoughts and I spent many days in bed crying in despair.
In January 2017 I began a health program and I lost 60lbs. For the first time in a long time I had hope. I was excited about my future and the strength I had to change my life. I realized that my old habits weren’t going to work with my new lifestyle things had to change.
After the weight loss, I was ready to tackle depression. I’m not cured of depression but I work at it everyday. I found that I can control my emotions, I can choose what to think and I can choose what I feed my mind. One key thing I realized, watching emotionally charged movies and TV shows were not beneficial to me and by participating in these things I was triggering depression. I figured this out when I went to a movie and the main character committed suicide. The whole week after I watched this movie I was so depressed. I knew that the emotional response I had to the movie was no different that if it had happened in real life. My brain doesn’t know fantasy from reality; it only knows the emotional response. I began to test this theory out over and over again. Saying to myself, “this is just a movie”, doesn’t work for me. Just like with my eating habits, I have to be very selective about what I watch. This one thing has been key to keeping my mind healthy and free from depression. I not only avoid emotionally charged entertainment, I also feed my mind with positive books, shows, articles, music and people. I get out in nature everyday and this has made a world of difference in my life. Mental illness can be debilitating, I know this firsthand. Think about what you are feeding your mind, is it hurtful or helpful.
I have many more ways that I keep my mind healthy, keep reading to learn about other ways that I keep my mind healthy and well.