Mind your mind: You are brave, strong and important

We’re halfway through the school year! Midterms are coming up, the weather is grey, people are falling ill left and right — and let’s be honest, it’s unsurprising if your mental well-being takes a nosedive during this time.

Up to this point, I’ve covered a lot of topics revolving around how to take care of it and bring it back up, such as things you can do to alleviate or lessen stress, how to prioritize your schedule, things for you to contemplate and try. I’ve thrown a lot of information at you that you may or may not have already known and prodded you along with tips for helping yourself these past few months, but I realize that one thing I haven’t truly done is properly talk to you.

That being said, this week I’m doing something different. This week, I’m not writing for you. I’m writing to you.

To the people who tried and failed to find closeness with a psychiatrist, therapist or counsellor; to the people who do not receive support from their family or friends; to the people who have trouble speaking out about their mental illness and pain; to the people who remain silent and remote because they are afraid of a mind that feels no longer to be their own; to the people who simply need a friend today:

I know I have never met you and will probably never meet you, I do not know the intricate workings of your mind or your heart, I cannot look at you while I say these words. But for what my words are worth, for the span of the next short minutes you read my article, I will be here for you.

You are so brave. If no one has told you, I’m telling you now. You are brave for taking on so many tasks and challenging yourself in an environment where stress is encouraged. You are brave for battling your mind, because one of the scariest sensations is to be uncomfortable and lost in your own body. You are brave for all the times you had to contain the way your heart ratchets up uncontrollably in a still classroom or workplace and the times you had to hide in a bathroom stall to break down without shame. You are brave for trying to navigate this chaotic sea of self-doubt. You are brave for carrying the scars on your skin and the invisible ones on your heart. I know you’re trying. And if you’re not, I know how that feels too. You are brave for fighting this battle alone and you must realize the depth of your own courage for things to get better.

If no one reminds you after a tough day that you are brave, remember to tell yourself.

You are so strong. You are strong for dragging yourself to class even though the only thing you feel capable of doing is sleeping for another two days. You are strong for carrying the weight of your pain on top of the heavy backpack you wear every day. You are strong for pushing through months and years of gruelling academic expectations. You are strong for fighting for or against your own self-imposed expectations, too. You are strong for making it through day after day when you feel like there’s no end to it all. Envision the day when the long days and hard work pay off.

And if you don’t know what your reason for getting up every day is, you must find the strength to search for and pursue it.

Suggested Readings:

You are important. Even if you feel like no one sees you sitting alone, like your friends do not prioritize you, like you aren’t as successful as your peers, or that you are separate from everyone around you, remember to look inwards. Look at the good and tell yourself all the ways in which you matter.

Look at the bad and tell yourself you still matter.

Perhaps you will not believe it. Perhaps your voice will be small, but repeat it nonetheless until the words are planted in your core and takes root. When you have nurtured that spark of self-love and confidence, the rest will be easy. There will come a day when you will not need to remind yourself of your right to inhabit space or your right to feel happy, because you will already know it in every corner of your mind.