May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Considering the giant garbage pile we appear to be sitting on, let’s remind each other to look after our mental health as much as possible. The Child Mind Institute has kicked off its Dare to Share campaign that features a different celebrity each day talking about how they manage their mental health, beginning with Pink. Pink filmed a video telling fans that she suffered from debilitating panic attacks in her early 20s. Because she didn’t know what was going on, she would end up in the hospital, much like Ireland Baldwin, hooked up to an EKG machine, only to be told she was “fine.” So Pink began building a “spiritual toolbox” with items she needs to help her refocus and keep her centered and encourages people suffering from panic attacks to do the same.
Pink is opening up about her mental health struggles to remind young people dealing with similar issues that “it does get better.”
“I used to get pretty awful panic attacks and I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t have anybody to talk to about it and I didn’t know what to do,” the singer began. “I would feel like I was having strokes, like, stroke symptoms, it was terrifying.”
During that time, she explained, she would go to the hospital and sit in her car in the emergency room parking lot until she felt better or would go into the emergency room.
“I had a number of EKGs that always led back to ‘You’re fine, you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong, you’re imagining it all, it’s all in your head,’” she explained. “Then I started seeing a therapist, and then I started doing all these things. I started learning all these steps on how to take care of myself, I’d never been taught how to take care of myself.”
The singer said she began to compile a “spiritual toolbox,” comprised of things like “candles and incense.” She also partook in “full moon ceremonies for women only” and practiced various forms of meditation to “take care of me and my heart and my head.”
“Writing songs is the probably the thing that has saved my life,” she said. “Writing in a journal, writing poetry, reading other people’s stories, being inspired. Exercise. Eating healthy. Cooking is like a meditation.
“So now I know in my life, when I’m getting lost, I reach under my bed and I grab out my spiritual toolbox,” she said. “I light my incense and I take a bath and I breathe and I do my gratitudes. I also have surrounded myself with a village of people that know when I’ve forgotten that I have a spiritual toolbox, they remind me. And so I encourage all of you to write, journal, talk to someone and start building your own spiritual toolbox and put people around you that remind you that you have it under the bed.”
The singer concluded, “I will tell you from being a very, very afraid 7, 8, 13, 23, 31, and now 42-year-old woman, it does get better and there are beautiful moments waiting for you and there are beautiful people waiting to love you, and one of those people is yourself.”
I didn’t know Pink suffered from panic attacks. That may be on me. It’s possible she’s spoken of them before, and I just didn’t know. But they sound crippling, especially if she had to calm herself down in the parking lot of the emergency room just to make it into the actual emergency room. And not knowing what was happening, again, only heightens the panic. We’ve heard doctors telling panic patients, “you’re imagining it all, it’s all in your head,” for so long, I hope they are finding other language now. I hope they at least suggest a therapist for panic attacks. The unknown diagnosis seems to be the common thread in all these stories.
I like Pink’s suggestion of a spiritual toolbox. Even if you wouldn’t pack the same items as she does, the idea of having a box or bag of things that ground you is a good one. Also, her advice about having “people around you that remind you that you have (your spiritual toolbox) under the bed” is key. It is very important to have a support group. Lastly, it’s not mentioned here, and I know it’s often the butt of jokes, but a mental happy place is useful in a pinch. Have a time or place in which you knew serenity and keep that memory locked in your mind to conjure when you start spinning.
And as hard as it is to believe, Pink is telling the truth: it does get better.
Photo credit: Instagram and Getty Images