Life has its ups and downs. Getting stuck in a down moment is a familiar place for many people. On any given day, I may scan past a handful of comments on social media that confirms this reality. Life doesn’t seem to be getting easier and in the face of continuous uncertainty it helps to have a plan for coping when a surprise event seems to destroy the best of you. Small steps can help you climb out slowly. The recommendations below are some first steps for seeking help when you’re not okay.
Look right in front of you.
Friendship and support can come from the most unlikely places. Age, gender, cultural differences are rarely a factor in determining a friend. Every friend will not always be able to support you in your time of need, but I believe God always provides someone to stand beside you, especially during a difficult time. I encourage you to open your heart and mind to possible sources of friendship. Places to look include:
Those Who Know: Your family and friends are the most likely to know you intimately and notice when something is off. My closest confidant knows my quirks and forgives quickly. No matter what, someone is always waiting and willing to listen when I am ready to talk.
Those Who Check In: Every once in a while, a random text or phone call serves as a touchpoint. Someone may send a scripture, prayer or short note of encouragement. In these moments, be mindful enough to acknowledge it with a simple “Thank you, I needed this.” As you accept the care and concern, think about how God may have placed you on this individual’s heart for a reason.
Good Social: A brief swipe-through your timeline produces a wealth of quick thoughts that can leave you encouraged. But, a word of advice, be intentional about setting yourself up for positive support by subscribing to content that uplifts. Speaking of content, Bible apps for devotionals and books that are promoting positive (yet realistic) thoughts should be nearby. Consider subscribing to several professional motivational speakers on Youtube.
Everyone is going through something and these days, the trials seem to be more frequent and increasingly difficult. Sometimes, that leaves us with a dearth of encouragement and support from others. It is not personal. When you find yourself unable to find support from without, look within. I get it – encouraging yourself is easier said than done. Everyday is not sunny and being positive to the point of ignorance is a poor response to facing what is really going on. However, it is possible to find encouragement. I recommend the following strategies below to strengthen your inner self.
- The first thing to do is to accept your reality. Whether experiencing loss, hurt or betrayal, do not push the hurt away. No matter how hard, embrace your situation. Then, rephrase your reality: “I feel alone, but I can find hope by being hope to someone else.” “I am not well, but I am surrounded by individuals who love me.”
- Believe it or not, the Bible is powerful! I have experienced many moments where I struggled to “feel” positive, but then after opening the Bible and reading a chapter or story, I realized that the pressure and negative thoughts had dissipated. When selecting scriptures, I usually begin with a scripture of the day on a website or devotional. Sometimes, I select a book of the Bible to read one chapter per day. It is amazing how each chapter often speaks to my exact circumstances that particular day.
- Write out the good and the bad. Whether you jot down your thoughts in columns or one at a time, the idea here is to fight to get out of the negative space you are stuck in. The reality of dark thoughts is that they fool you into thinking that they are the only reality, the only option. But when you write it down and then counter the thoughts with other truths including positive things that have happened recently, you correct yourself and begin to reverse your downward spiral.
Seek professional help.
Mental health challenges are real. While Bible verses and inspirational messages are helpful, they are not always enough. Another crucial step to being okay is accepting that it may take a little longer and a little extra help to get there. There is no better time than now to find a low-cost (or even free) professional service to provide support to get through a difficult moment in your life. Websites and apps abound with options for virtual counselors and mental health professionals. Trained professionals are able to provide concrete steps for digging out of a dark place. They also create a safe space for accountability. Here are a few places to go to find a licensed mental health therapist.
- Check out your insurance website. These sites usually have a database of counselors. Due to COVID restrictions, most health professionals offer virtual options for non-essential healthcare appointments. Several insurance companies also partner with apps that provide access to services that are 100% virtual year-round, even without safe-at-home restrictions. Many insurance companies pay the majority of appointment costs. Some cover 100% of costs including fully covering the co-pay for a set number of appointments per year.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great one-stop shop for information on mental health including resources for finding health counselors or support groups.
- Mental Health America also provides a Find Help link that makes searching for counselors easier. Their organization is committed to making mental health support accessible to people of color.
Whether looking in front of you, encouraging yourself or seeking professional help, the best part of a down moment is that you can only go up. If you find yourself stuck in a dark place and you cannot seem to find your way out – always remember, it’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t get stuck there.