Mental health requires more than one-time fix
Managing mental health can be difficult.
“It’s like anything can trigger me,” said June Smith, not her real name. “It’s something as little as someone not texting me back, and then I’ll get upset.”
If the situation escalates, it can turn into a panic attack. It helps when Smith has coping mechanisms. She enjoys tasks like cleaning or washing dishes to clear her mind, but she doesn’t have a consistent routine to handle situations.
One in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness each year, according to a 2018 study by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Annually, one in six children between 6 and 17 years old suffers from mental illness, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The toughest time of year for Smith is between November and January. One method that helps is when she can be straightforward around friends.
“I’m always upfront,” she said. “If they’re like, ‘Hey, why do you have an attitude?’ I’ll say, ‘OK, do you really want to know?’ and then I’ll explain what’s going on.”
Smith deals with several aspects of mental health in her life — bipolar disorder, extreme anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. Each can be triggered by different factors.
Those are among the most common disorders in the U.S. An estimated 48 million people have an anxiety disorder, nine million with PTSD, and seven million with bipolar disorder.
Sometimes, even enjoying a day out with friends can lead to a panic attack the next day, Smith said.
“If we were to be doing more, or more into the night, tomorrow would be a bad day for me,” she said. “I’d be punishing myself for having fun. I don’t get it either.”
Smith has learned to deal with it over time, and her struggles led to an interest in counseling in hope of assisting others.
“I’ve been through a lot of stuff and I want to help others who have been as well,” she said. “I don’t want people having to deal with stuff without an outlet, like I had to.”
That interest also has led to an enjoyment of psychological-themed books and movies.
“I like to know what’s going on in their brains because it’s interesting,” she said.
Now on her second stint living in Kansas, Smith said this time has included a better mental state overall and healthier lifestyle.
“The first time I was an alcoholic,” she said. “My brother moved in and my PTSD started up so I drank a lot.”