Mental Health in a Nutshell


What does it mean to be mentally healthy?

The USCA (University of South Carolina Aiken), gives a great definition for a healthy mind, “A healthy mind includes a presence of intellectual curiosity and a sense of fostering creativity and critical thinking. It is awareness and acceptance of feelings and includes the degree to which a person feels positive and enthusiastic about one’s self and one’s purpose, value and meaning for life. It includes the capacity to manage feelings, behaviors and effectively cope with stress.”

To sum it up, being mentally healthy means you are in a state of positive self-acceptance, self-purpose, and coping behaviors to deal with life’s ongoing stresses.

Who does mental health affect?

Everyone. Mental health affects everyone, directly or indirectly. WHO (World Health Organization), states that 1 in 4 people will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. With this in mind, it is important to be aware that mental health and mental illnesses are not always preventable or easily curable. Sometimes life just happens.

What can I do to improve my mental health?

I am not a doctor, but I have experienced what it’s like to be on a low point in the spectrum. There comes a point in everyone’s life, when they want something to change. I think that one of the first steps in improving your mental health is to realize that you want to change, and you want to put in the effort required to make that change.

Something that really worked for me was therapy. I know many people are reluctant to try therapy because of the fear of being judged. Therapy is a loaded word.

“I’m going to therapy today.”

When I first started, it felt like the first thing people would ask me is, “What’s wrong with you?” and truthfully, it did happen sometimes. Let me be the one to tell you that it’s OK to want to feel better. A therapist is like a doctor for the mind.

If therapy alone isn’t enough, talk to your doctor, and they can also find ways to improve your mental condition. It’s okay to use antidepressants.

Psychology Today also goes into detail with “9 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Today.” Some pieces of advice that I think are extremely useful are:

  • Exercise
  • Open up to someone
  • Eat well
  • Go to bed on time

The first thing I said to improve your mental health was to realize that you want to change. Thinking back, I also want to add that it’s OK to ask for help along the way.


Let’s Talk About Depression


I think that depression in my case stemmed from some source of trauma. As a kid, my family moved a lot. Every time we moved, I would lose my best friends, join a new school, and try to fit in. Unfortunately, the reality of moving means that when you finally get to a new school, people have already formed their friend groups and cliques. Moving, especially during early adolescence, can be a tough thing.

Oddly enough, there was never a time during my depression that I thought I was depressed. I felt normal. I felt like me, but I felt unmotivated. I felt unmotivated to move, to eat, to wake up in the mornings. My body felt tired, mentally and physically. As in many cases, the first people to usually notice these things is family. For that, I am forever grateful.

In Hollywood, depression is treated like sadness, and you’ll “get over it.” That’s not always the case. Unlike sadness, depression can take years to cure and even then, it can always come back.

According to Healthline, there are many different types of depression: major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar/manic depressive disorder, seasonal depression, postpartum depression, and psychotic depression. My depression was best characterized by persistent depressive disorder (PDD). My depression was not sever enough that I seriously considered suicide, but my symptoms greatly affected my well-being and quality of life.

What is Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)?

Healthline outlines PDD’s symptoms as:

  • persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • sleep problems
  • low energy
  • a change in appetite
  • difficulty concentrating
  • indecisiveness
  • a lack of interest in daily activities
  • decreased productivity
  • poor self-esteem
  • a negative attitude
  • avoidance of social activities

One regret I have about experiencing depression was during one of the summers before I moved. One symptom of PDD is “avoidance of social activities,” and my best friend at the time never knew I had depression. She would want to hang out with me, but I couldn’t get out of bed. I hurt her feelings.

After moving, my mother decided to enroll me in therapy twice a week. I can honestly say that it helped me a lot. One major benefit of therapy for me, was that it allowed me to identify my problems and gave me a path to follow toward a better mental space. My doctor also prescribed me with Sertraline (also known as Zoloft), which helped my brain to better balance my serotonin levels.

Today, I am off medication and am able to function day to day. I have goals and ambitions that I wholeheartedly want to achieve and put my energy into to attain. I have a direction in life, and as the saying goes, “When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.”

Let’s Talk About Anxiety


Everyone worries about something at some point in their life. For some, it’s a passing thought, and it’ll get done later. For others like myself, I can’t stop thinking about it until it gets done NOW. It could be anything from a project that’s due 2 weeks from now to laundry that’s piling up for the past few days. I could be at the most relaxing place on Earth and my mind is whirling and worrying about, “When I get home, I need to do X, Y, and Z… and thennn I can relax,” but that time never comes.

When I was in high school, my anxiety was so bad that I used to have panic attacks. During a panic attack, you are hyperventilating, your arms get goosebumps and feel numb and cold, you start to sweat, and your head feels light but also like you got hit by a car– disoriented, is the best word I can think to describe it. Healthline provides a great step-by-step process to guide you through, should you ever experience a panic attack.

The events that led to my panic attacks stemmed from my inability to accept when I didn’t do something PERFECTLY. I could practice something hundreds of times and dedicate hours to a simple project. The smallest critique would send me to shivers. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate feedback. I want to learn what I can do to make it better. However, the anxious brain starts to panic and go on a loop,”I did something wrong. I did something wrong.” My anxiety didn’t allow me to accept the possibility that I could do something wrong… something…bad?

Today, my anxiety is more in control. I still become over-emotional quite easy, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be. I still worry, but I know I’ll get it done later. I haven’t had a panic attack since high school, and that is mostly because I am learning to not blame myself if I can’t be perfect. One source that helps me practice mindfulness is deep breathing exercises. You can follow along with this video made by Calm on YouTube below:

One take-away I have from my experience in anxiety is don’t let it get to you. You are stronger than you think you are, and when this moment passes you’ll see that you can make it through the next one, too.

About Me

Welcome to My Blog!

My name is Annie Hoch-South, and I am a full-time student at the WSUV campus studying in their Digital Technology and Culture program set to graduate in the Spring 2019 semester!

Eventually, I would like to become a digital marketer using digital design techniques and content creation.

I was born in China, but I don’t remember any of it. After I was adopted, my family moved around before settling in Washington state (for now).

This blog is for my COM 210 class, and is meant to capture my experiences with mental health both past and present. This blog will serve as a reflection piece on my history with mental health, relationships, and what it means to have a healthy mind.