Money. Money is a huge part of why I work for myself, and it’s not because I’m earning money it’s because it’s so difficult to make money while working for someone else. For context, I am on disability and technically being held under the mental health act, even though I get to live and stay at home. I still have to listen to my doctors and do what they say or I can be sent back to the hospital at a moment’s notice.

There are rules to working for yourself that I didn’t know before, and I am not talking about the business stuff, I’m talking about the mental health stuff. Like I didn’t know I’d have to cut everyone out of my life in order to save my life, so the loneliness and the isolation I’ve been living with have been happening for the better part of 7 years.

Find new ways to make new friends. Join a group or an organization you believe in, I joined Writers and Editors of Color and have a whole new crop of friends that I didn’t have before. I talk to them weekly and we talk about all sorts of things from our mental health issues to what’s going on in the world.

Older friends have been helpful in keeping me grounded and reminding me where I come from in a way that isn’t always so healthy so sometimes I need to pull back and remember that the person they recall isn’t the person I am anymore.

Spending so much time means that I have a lot more time to get the cleaning done but for some reason and I couldn’t tell you if my life depended on it, I’m terrified of having a clean house. I think and I mean this seriously, it harkens back to a dream I had where the abuser in charge, the one who didn’t go to prison, came into my house and literally said “they cleaned. the house,” that dream was one I had several years ago and I still have nightmares about it.

I don’t talk about it often because it sounds so silly, but if you know the volume of the trauma I escaped you’d understand.

Mental Health issues don’t really care if you’re uninterested in dealing with them, they are going to show up whether you like it or not because that’s what they do. Sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain and other times it’s the fact that you’re just worn down and out from trauma and dealing with life. Whatever your mental health issues are or wherever they come from, it’s important to know you aren’t alone.

All of us have wishes that we think would make our own lives better, but none of us can do that without a little help. People don’t know that they aren’t alone because we aren’t talking about the issues that hold us back.

We’re too embarrassed, thinking that we’re alone, thinking that there is no one who could understand. The problem with that belief is that it’s a complete lie. Every single person from the poorest most economically destitute person on the planet to the richest knows what it feels like to feel alone and insecure, we just don’t talk about it.

We don’t recognize the signs of mental health issues all the time, because we don’t know what they are. Is it bipolar? Psychosis? Is it something else? Something worse? We don’t know because language, symptom categorization, and understanding around mental health are so new, so my short answer to “what the fuck am I going to do?” is to breathe.

The first thing you need to learn is to practice healthy breathing exercises so that when you can’t breathe, you can remind yourself you’ve been practicing and you got this.

I find the Brahma breathing exercises particularly helpful, and you can find some great ones on Google.

Sometimes the thoughts get crowded and become too loud and I can’t focus, this is especially true at night when I’m trying to sleep. I find smoking a joint before bed and then listening to music as well as taking my sleeping pill helps me get the good rest sleep that I need very much.

Music has become like a gateway to a whole world I forgot existed but knew very well in my teen years. I’ve listened to everything from Doctor Dre to Spice Girls and everything in between over the last few months and it’s been helping to remind me of a time when life wasn’t so serious and I could just be a carefree kid.

Remembering that has made me realize that I can be similar to that again, maybe not as eager to fall in love, but certainly eager to have new experiences and to see the world in ways I wasn’t ready to before.

Speaking of which, that’s another thing that’s really difficult, not understanding is a hell of a curse, it can make everything seem so much scarier and frustrating than it is, but once you learn to hone your breathing, calm your storm, so to speak, and take each moment as it comes, then you’ll find it’s easier to handle the bigger stuff.

I have a lot going on like an eviction notice, and yet I’m …not happy, per se, but I’m starting to feel like I know why I need help, and for the first time in my life, that feels like the really good place to start.

It’s not always possible to take it one moment at a time – sometimes life demands that we respond 100% right away, and that can be fucking terrifying and completely overwhelming. When this happens I reach out for help, because I know that no one who made it where they wanted to go, got there alone.

Every day is different, which I didn’t expect, by the end of the day, it feels the same because I get up, make coffee, and spend the day writing or doing research, and then I sit around and try to get my brain to focus enough to do household chores which almost never happens.

I’m so tired that I allow myself the time to rest and breathe when I need to, but I have to work super hard at controlling the grief, the anxiety, and worse the guilt.

Reaching out to my friends helps a lot, knowing that they are experiencing the same kind of trauma and healing issues. The community you build around yourself after trauma is hugely important and it will include musicians, artists, and creative types because you’re becoming one yourself. It will include people who hold similar ideals to you, political beliefs, and hobbies.

That’s hugely important because when you have something in common with folks it’s a lot easier to feel less alone in the world and to feel like people understand you.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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