mental health interview

Mental Health and Spirituality: An Interview

Whether you feel that your mental health is in check or if you often struggle with it, it’s a reality of life. Every single person you know has thoughts about mental health. However, it’s true that some people admittedly have fewer thoughts about it, or may not even be able to recognize that they’re thinking about mental health. We’re taught from a young age that expressing our thoughts and feelings is taboo and that we should “push through” mental hardships.

Since this is the case, it’s honestly no surprise that as a society we don’t talk about mental health that often. But I want to change that. Luckily, I’m not the only one that feels that way! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing interviews with other millennials that want to talk about this important topic. As I mentioned last week, it’s incredibly important to learn from each other. This week we’ll be hearing from Jessica about mental health, worrying, anxiety, and spirituality.

Jessica has a bachelors degree in intercultural studies, with minors in children’s ministry and social work. She has a full time job working as a Mentoring Coordinator for a non-profit Christian ministry in Indianapolis. She is also working towards her pastoral license. I met Jessica in Illinois while we were bridesmaids for a mutual friend, and let me just say, Jessica is awesome. She is unbelievably kind and fun to be around. The difficulties she’s been through have made her into a stronger person who strives to be the best she can be. With that said, let’s see what she has to say on this topic:

Have you ever struggled with mental health?

For me it’s hard to admit that I ever struggled with a mental health issue. I have come to realize that it really isn’t a bad thing. I have experience with both depression and anxiety, but I didn’t realize either of these were mental health issues. It was just another thing everyone deals with. My anxiety has gotten really bad since my mother passed away. I worry about EVERYTHING. I replay and plan out situations in my head and talk myself out of doing things in fear of what outcome could come true.

My tendency to replay situations depends on if I’m stressed and anxious. It’s not good because it causes me to worry more and have more fear. I worry what others think about me, worry about the problems that other people face, and I worry about myself. When I share these feelings I think some people may look at me differently, but I don’t ever think it’s negatively. I think it’s in a way of understanding who I am and what I have been through.

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mental health and spirituality

Do your mental health struggles ever affect your actions at work?

I do think at times that my work is affected by the mental health struggles that I deal with. I work with families in tough situations and in a cycle of poverty. Sometimes I take on their situations which causes me anxiety. I think I also have anxiety at work because of my struggle and desire to be needed, and I fear that if I don’t do a good job or mess up my boss won’t trust me or continue to give me responsibilities. I think my depression pops up here and there especially when a student I’m working with talks about a loss of a parent. My depression and anxiety tend to take over in those situations.

Do you feel like you can share these struggles with others? Why or why not?

I tend not to share my struggles because I don’t want sympathy or for others to view me differently. My close friends and coworkers know about these struggles though. I think as a pastor you’re supposed to be strong you aren’t supposed to have weakness, but I think sharing about it at times shows that no one is perfect. Sometimes life throws things at us, such as uncontrollable situations. But in those situations you could choose to just accept it and be down and weary and angry, or find hope and light in those times and not let them define you.

What resources do you use to cope with these feelings, if any?

I talk to my close friends and I practice self-care by doing things I love and enjoy (i.e., working out and running). My core support system is God and with that I have friends that surround me and lift me up. I also have a book that has helped a lot as well. It’s Called Calm My Anxious Heart. Spending time listening to podcasts, reading the bible, praying, and writing in my journal is helpful as well.

I have realized that even though I have dealt with this worry, fear, and anxiety, that the Lord is bigger than those things. I just need to give Him control of those situations and I shouldn’t worry about things because God already knows what’s going to happen and it’s all part of his plan.

MAKAYLA

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Life as Millennials: 4 Concepts We’re Too Familiar With

It’s almost ridiculous to think about the future because of how little control we actually have over it. How many times have you sat down to make a plan and it doesn’t turn out the way you expected? I know how you feel, and so does Megan Tan. She’s the mastermind behind the podcast Millennial.

As Megan says, her podcast series is about something no one really teaches you about: maneuvering your twenties. This is the first podcast I’ve listened to. There are 47 episodes, but since I’m trying to listen to a new podcast each week, I ended up listening to 15 episodes (finished the first season and started the second). If you’d like to start listening to podcasts too, here are the links to CastBox and Audible.

Just so you know, I don’t agree with Megan on everything, but I respect what she has to say and I think that millennials from all backgrounds can gain something from listening to this podcast. At first, I picked Millennial because each episode was shorter than other podcasts I tried to start. But I ultimately stuck with it because it’s easy to picture what Megan’s describing, and she’s not trying too hard. She’s just simply telling her story. Although her life experiences might not be applicable to everyone, her feelings are incredibly relatable for someone in their twenties who’s ever said to themselves, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

To break down the 15 episodes I listened to, I’ve decided to pull out themes and concepts that I noticed throughout the series:

The Future

I regularly find myself feeling unhappy and unsatisfied in the present because I’m worried about the future. We’re always being told that the decisions we make in our twenties will decide our future, and that thought is often paralyzing. This is especially true when there are so many choices that have deadlines and expiration dates (i.e., applying for jobs and colleges, accepting or declining offers, etc.). How do we know these choices are right? Or what if we aren’t sure what choices are even available?

At the beginning of the series, Megan received an email from the director of photography at the LA Times offering her an internship. A dream opportunity. The decision had a deadline and saying, “Yes!” would mean changing almost every aspect of her life. Of course she was excited, at first. Then all of those fears about the future came creeping in. In the end, she had to make a decision based on the information she was given and hope that it would have a positive impact on her future. Have you ever been in this situation? What did you decide?

Spaces

Finances

Megan explains that she stresses about her finances because she doesn’t want to end up in a situation where she needs to be dependent on others. I think that many of us share this fear because our families went through The Great Recession of 2007-2009, where we experienced what it was like to be in the presence of financial hardship. Personally, growing up during this time period shapes a lot of my actions. I am very nervous about debt, credit cards, and spending money in general.

Since that is the case, I’ve had to work some odd jobs. I’ve worked as a janitor, dishwasher, receptionist, and pest control technician (among other things). Megan spent more time than she wanted as a waitress. Yeah, some people our age are traveling the world while we’re doing these jobs… But it’s important to not worry about what other people think about what you’re doing. It might be a bummer that you’re a waitress while you’re figuring things out… but it’s a stepping stone. Be proud of what you’re doing to get yourself to where you want to go, even if it’s not glamorous.

Comparison

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. We all have social media accounts where we see polished versions of our friends and family. We see strangers with sun-kissed skin on tropical vacations and we think, “I wish that was me.” The reality is, no one has the perfect life or the 100% ideal situation.

Megan experiences this throughout the series, both on social media and in her personal life with her boyfriend Ben. Ben starts to become successful at a faster rate than Megan, landing a position with a high-budget commercial. This leads to thoughts of being inferior to her significant other and resenting the idea of being “just he supporter.” By the end of the episode, she changes her tune and realizes that they are more of a partnership that needs to support each other, which gets rid of the resentment. The only thing comparison will do is keep you from becoming your best self.

Opinions

Everyone has opinions. Your mom, dad, significant other, friends, doctors, neighbors, church leaders, coworkers, and siblings have opinions. And they all think they know what’s best for you. They care about you and want you to succeed, but in the end YOUR opinion is the only one that matters.

In the second episode of Millennial, Megan’s boyfriend’s father explains that you need to establish what your “line” is. Essentially, you need to decide what direction you’re going and where you want it to lead you. Once you’ve decided, don’t let others get in the way of what you’ve decided success is. It’s not going to make sense to a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to. Your opinion is the one that matters.

These four concepts are all too familiar for millennials. Tell me about your experiences. Would you add anything to this list?

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

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Makayla

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