Has the inauguration made the reality of the new president finally set in and you're having trouble dealing?
A lot of us are struggling right now with coming to terms with the poor decisions and constant insensitivity of the new presidential regime. Maybe you already live with anxiety and/or depression. Or maybe this is new to you and you're blindsided by your new emotions (or your disturbing lack of emotions).
Unfortunately, you may not have insurance (or you know that soon your beloved Obamacare will be gone). So in this blog post you'll learn 9 questions to ask yourself to figure out:
How to feel better even if you don't have health insurance
1. What exercise can I convince myself to do?
It can be really tough to motivate yourself to exercise when you're already feeling shitty. But exercise is one of the best actions you can take for your mental health. And there are lots of ways to do it that don't cost any money!
Since you're already feeling bad, this isn't the time to force yourself to do whatever exercise the women's magazines are telling you is the best way to trim fat from your “problem areas.” Nope, you're going to figure out what exercise you're willing to do by thinking about which ones you actually enjoy doing.
- Take a walk (with a friend?)
- Put on your favorite music and dance
- Go for a jog (this suggestion is only for those of you who already find joy from running)
- Put on a YouTube dance video or play Just Dance on the Wii
- Challenge yourself to see how many jumping jacks or lunges you can do in a row
2. What can I tell people at work so they're understanding of my situation?
If you suddenly find yourself struggling with your mental health, your performance at work may suffer. You might:
- run into the bathroom stall regularly to hide your tears
- be unable to wake up on time despite your blaring alarm
- not feel motivated
- be exhausted at work because your sleep is messed up
- feel disconnected from your coworkers
The fact that your boss and coworkers generally respect you may not mean they'll automatically be understanding if you suddenly start “underperforming.” If you haven't already told them that you sometimes struggle with mental health issues that can affect you at work, they might assume that it turns out you're a slacker.
Even when people know you have mental health issues, they won't necessarily assume that that's what's going on when your behavior suddenly changes. So unfortunately, it's up to you (or possibly trusted loved ones) to remind them.
When/if you talk to your boss and co-workers, keep in mind that this is partly a political issue and they may not feel the same way you do. Focus on how you're feeling and decide whether it'll help or hurt the conversation to explain what's underlying it. And remember, you don't need to justify your mental health issues to anyone.
3. What's underlying my emotions?
Think about why this election has hit you so hard. Are you:
- Feeling helpless because the result didn't reflect the majority vote?
- Afraid because you're part of a historically disadvantaged group and you see violence escalating against people who look like you?
- Struggling because you disagree fundamentally with someone in your life who voted for Trump?
- Stressing about how you'll deal when Obamacare is gone?
- Nervous about how this will affect your job stability?
You may not be able to pin your emotions on anything. But by doing a little digging, you may be able to find some issue that you can start to address. Or at least, knowing what it is you're freaking out about can make it easier to explain to others what you're going through.
Additionally, talking through your greatest worries can help you to realize that (hopefully), the thing you're the most afraid of is actually pretty unlikely to happen. (Granted, this is more relevant when you're stressing that the test you're taking tomorrow will result in your flunking out of college. I can't deny that your worries about a powerful, deeply unqualified, insensitive person may be very well-warranted. Nevertheless, talking through your concerns may help.)
Speaking of which:
4. What do I need to communicate to the people in my life?
Not everyone knows what to do when someone they love is experiencing mental health issues. In fact, there are ~4 million hits on Google for “what not to say to someone with depression and anxiety.”
If your loved one is saying all the wrong things, this can exacerbate the problem. Suddenly, in addition to dealing with your emotions and waning energy, you're begging the person you love to take you seriously and treat you with the love and respect you're desperate for.
So, send them some of those articles to read so they know what not to say to you. Ask them as directly as possible for things you know will help you (hopefully this list helps you find some). And forgive them for their mistakes.
5. What free or reduced cost resources are available?
You may think there's no way you can get support when you don't have the insurance to afford regular therapy. So consider the following options:
- Check classifieds, free local magazines, and online postings for free group counseling events
- Consider the groups you belong to and see whether any of them provide resources
- Create your own group: Invite a few friends who you think will relate to how you're feeling and discuss together your emotions in response to the election. I went to an amazing event after the election run by Vanessa Elle, in which we meditated and then processed our emotions.
- Check whether any psychology programs near you offer low-cost therapy by students in training. These can be excellent sessions for as little as $5-10 each
- Look into online therapy. For example, Talkspace offers unlimited texting for $43/week or one weekly live session and unlimited texting for $69/week. This may be much lower than the cost of traditional therapy. Of course, I realize that this cost may seem totally outrageous compared to what you can afford, which is why it's only one of many suggestions offered in this article.
6. How can I relax?
There are lots of simple ways to make yourself feel better, so why not give them a try? If you are experiencing severe depression, I won't pretend that these will make it all better. But they may provide you 10 minutes of relief, and that's worth something too!
Give at least one of these a try (or think of your own and share them with us):
- blow bubbles
- cuddle with your pet (or a friend's pet)
- meditate or do deep breathing
- skip down the sidewalk (yes, you're going to feel silly at first)
- watch a beloved movie or reruns of your favorite TV show
7. Who can I ask for help?
Hopefully you have a partner or close friend that you can talk to. But you may not, in which case you'll have to look further. Is there someone in your community who seems very willing to help others? A friend you haven't talked to in years who told you you could always turn to them?
You might consider opening up on Facebook and asking your community for support. I did this when I was feeling bad last week and got numerous people offering a caring ear and kind words.
8. How can I help my brain chemistry and physiology?
You may not be able to afford psychiatric medicine if you don't have health insurance. Even if you could, you may not be prepared to start a new medication with the adjustment time and side effects.
- Doing exercise to get endorphins
- Using cannabis if you're in a state where you won't get in trouble
- Taking deep breathes to slow your heart rate
- Stretching so you get in touch with your body
- Having an orgasm (alone or with a partner) to increase activity in parts of the brain that make you feel better
- Choosing foods that give you more energy and keep your blood sugar steady
9. What cheers you up?
You know yourself better than any blogger possibly could. So pull out a piece of paper or your Notes app and make a list. Suggested jumping off points:
- What has worked for you in the past?
- What inevitably puts a smile on your face?
- Which of the questions above gave you ideas that you relate to? How can you implement them?