Health and Wellness,  Therapy

The Oxygen Mask Complex: Mental Health and Activism

If you’ve ever been on an airplane, then you’ve definitely heard your stewardess teach you a few things in the case of an emergency. For instance, if the cabin pressure tanks and it gets hard to breathe, you need to don your oxygen mask before you try to help anyone else.

Why?

Because you’re not saving anyone passed out and rolling around like a ragdoll in a sealed box.

It has been a trying (to put it very kindly) 2 or so years in the United States. Tensions of every kind are rising, and it seems that a new issue appears like pimples on a hormonal teenager’s face. And due to a marked increased in stress, citizens have become more and more involved in politics.

To be honest, after a few years of apathy, it’s a great change of pace to see more people doing what they can to change their surroundings.

The youth, in particular, are turning into fearless activists to face the injustices in our society head-on. They suit up and boot up to protest on the streets. Or they hit the campaign trail to lobby or participate in government. By any means necessary, they will be heard and incite necessary change.

People with protest signs in Oxford Street, London

But there’s one major thing we need to keep in mind.

It is equally, if not more, important to pay attention to our mental health before trying to save others.

I know that it sounds selfish and inconsiderate, but how can you effectively help others when you need help yourself? How can you give 100% when you’re at 40%?

When there is a constant onslaught of shit heading your way, do you have the mental fortitude to keep pressing on?

Now, I’m not saying that you should never help out even when you’re at 40%. I’m sure you could manage to do something (and if you can’t, that’s OK). I’m just saying don’t make a habit out of it without also taking the time to help yourself.

How often do we check in with ourselves? How often do we take a moment to decompress and engage in the necessary self-care activities?

It’s not easy to put the well-being of complete strangers before your own in serious matters. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up for others, while also standing up for yourself despite the very real threats of danger. But if we want to keep doing that, we need to be at or close to 100% to keep trudging through the mud to pull ourselves out of it.

That is why having access to a mental health professional these days is growing ever more critical as each day passes. When you take on as much as you do, you need to make sure that the negativity you’ve been shouldering does not become a part of you.

Recently, I watched a video from one of my favorite YouTubers.

In light of the recent and very public suicides of prominent figures in our culture, she took a break from her usual videos to address the real issues of mental illness. Throughout the video, she emphasized that some of us may be a few tics away (pun intended) from a massive boom. And unfortunately, some of us may not even know it.

And so, she suggested that we all see a licensed mental health professional regularly. Every year, set aside some time to talk to someone who can adequately identify any tics you may have.

You don’t need to spend 6 months there. But one or two visits can give you important insight into yourself. For instance, you may snap at people easily or get overly emotional if someone doesn’t agree with you.

Both of which are traits that will impede your progress as activists when you want to change someone’s mind.

There are a few ways that you can do this, but the easiest way is to be able to speak a therapist while you’re on the go.

I’ve spoken at length in my mini-series on how to find a therapist and the things to consider while doing so. But instead of sending you to several links across my site, I’ll just link you to one at the Better Help website. This article will give you various reasons to choose an online therapist–one whom you can reach a multitude of ways and speak to whenever you want to. (This link is sponsored by Better Help! However, as always, this never affects the integrity of my articles or the recommendations within. As you know, I love Better Help–so either way, I’d recommend them.) Some of the reasons listed are the incredible convenience, broad pools of mental health professions to choose from, and anonymity.

You certainly don’t need to see a therapist every month to make sure that you’re fine. There are a few things you can do by yourself, like meditation or having hobbies, that can help to get the dirt off your shoulders. But I do highly recommend seeing one from time to time as a part of your regularly scheduled health visits.

Be the stewardess you need in your life and demand that you invest in yourself by putting on the fucking mask. 

Peace and peace,

Althia.

Hi, I'm Althia! I love psychology have a particular obsession with promoting mental health. That being said, I have one specific goal that I want to achieve. I want to help millennials to finess mental illness and inspire personal growth one motivational & informational post at a time.

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