In the fall of 2016, I found myself digging through online forums about mental health issues. It was all very new to me, yet so many feelings shared online were so familiar to me. I had been diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) right before moving out and starting college. For almost a year, the illness was encompassing and heavy. Everyday was a struggle with this cyclical depression and anxiety that I couldn’t seem to combat.
I’d search online for answers, solutions, or recommendations, and always came up with nothing. A lot of people were feeling awful, but not a lot of people were finding answers. There was an astonishing lack of hope.
After months of counseling, finding a medication that worked, and holding on to hope, I started to feel better. It seemed like the PMDD was less in charge, and I was gaining some footing in being myself again. I wanted to offer anything that helped me as a solution for others who were feeling as stuck as I was. So I started drawing and making wall hangings and using any spare minute as a creative outlet, mostly, because I had to. Some days the only thing that helped was tying knots in yarn.
Jumping to now, I am a radically different person. I am healed, and I’m mostly free from the nasty symptoms of PMDD. Starting my own creative business was one of the things that helped me most. I had something to look forward to everyday, and having things I wanted to accomplish kept depression in check as I was motivated to get out of bed and work.
Twenty Seven has evolved and changed so much in this first year of business. I am so amazed and thankful for the support of community. I sell prints of my art and do custom branding work for small businesses. In addition to the online shop and wonderful Instagram community Twenty Seven has fostered, I was able to set up a physical storefront in “The Shop Across The Street” in the Dixieland area of Lakeland. The shop houses my prints, and retro antiques I have curated. And then, there is the occasional pop up market I am able to join. It has been such a beautiful journey, and it seems with every bit of business growth, there has been some healing done in my heart and another beautiful lesson learned.
The goodness going on now was certainly not always the case, so if you are in the midst of turmoil and maybe even struggling with mental health issues, do not lose hope. I wanted to include some invaluable practices that changed my life. Of course, at the top of this list is finding a good counselor, a good doctor, and actively seeking the help you need. Here are some practical things to do to help you feel better:
- Sleep - we cannot expect to function fully or healthily without a good sleep routine. Strive for rest and health over productivity
- Community - it is so good for you to have a group of friends you can text if you are having a rough day. Have some friends you can get a meal with, and have a special person you can be completely honest with.
- Distractions - it is so okay to have happy little things to keep you grounded (i.e. watch a favorite show, play with a pet, listen to music, etc.) I think we would all go a little crazy if we only focused on our feelings, it is really good to have things that take your mind off of things.
- Creativity - make something every day. Make your bed. Make a clean kitchen. Make a journal entry. I think creativity fills our days with magic that would not have otherwise existed.
- Doing hard work - focus on the work in your hands and strive to put yourself aside for a bit. Hard work heals lots of things.
Some other quick ideas: call someone you haven’t talked to in a while, go thrifting with a friend, start a good movie, deep clean your space, go for a drive with good music or a podcast, go to bed early, divert your attention from yourself by taking care of something or someone else, call your dearest friend and let them know you need to let feelings out, and try going to some places you’ve never been before in your own town.