image by Tyler Spangler
The effectiveness of mental health apps has been debated, and yes, there are useless apps out there. On the flip side, there are useful ones too. I have struggled with mental illness since seventh grade, and I wish I had these apps back in middle school. Now that I have them, keeping myself safe and healthy has become so much easier. There are apps for all kinds of mental illness, from bipolar to OCD to anxiety to depression.
As someone with bipolar disorder, I have always had trouble keeping track of my mood. I tried to keep a mental list, but that wasn’t working—does it ever? So, I decided I wanted to start tangibly journaling my mood swings. Even though my Pinterest is full of bullet journals and cutesy mood trackers, I knew I wouldn’t remember to fill a journal in every time my mood shifted. Hell, I knew I would get too lazy, or even forget the journal at home. The thought struck my mind: there’s an app for almost everything now. As a matter of fact, there are many apps that help with bipolar, but I find these two the most helpful:
Before I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I thought I had severe depression. This came with self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, self-harm urges, etc. One time, when things got really bad, I texted a trusted adult and asked for help. She couldn’t help me directly, but she gave me an app recommendation which ended up saving my life (I’m not being hyperbolic here):
After being called negative by many people I considered friends, I finally wanted to try and be more positive—y’know, happy. This app was very helpful when it came to looking at things in a different light and embracing the select positive emotions that I felt.
Anxiety is something else that certain apps can help with. I have heightened situational anxiety; when I’m about to audition or read a poem in front of a group, I get extremely anxious. I start hyperventilating, my heart starts racing, and my palms get sweaty all at once. This glorious combination of physical reactions is called an anxiety attack. For my personal anxiety attacks, I find that calming images or videos distract me in a healthy way.
OCD can be difficult to deal with, especially alone. Certain fixations and obsessions racing through your head along with a thousand thoughts per minute—I get it. I found an app that helps me, though:
Sometimes, it’s hard to just calm down. It doesn’t help when someone tells me to, especially when I’m smack-dab in the middle of a depressive episode or an anxiety attack. This is built for meditation, breathing, and being mindful of your emotions.
I understand the feeling of being alone. In the moments when I feel like I have absolutely no one—my therapist’s asleep, I don’t want to bother my friends, my mom will be mad if I wake her up—it’s refreshing to have a person to vent to. Not only are the therapists there to listen, but they’re there to help and give advice—for free.