The Mental Health "Dip" (And How to Handle It)

Jordan Brown

The dip always happens.

It always follows the highs.

Nothing great can last forever.

New habits last for a while, and then you face a setback.

This gentle nudge of an essay is for anyone who thought they were doing alright, only to be surprised by a sudden dip in progress and in feelings.

Dips always happen.

It's time to learn how to spot one so that you can get out of it and keep going.

The Mental Health Dip

Because this is a mental health newsletter, let's talk about the mental health dip.

But you'll soon realize that once you spot one dip, you can spot them all.

Starting with 2021, the current year, is a perfect example.

The turning of the page in the calendar feels momentous. It feels like it should solve all your problems.

And 2021 is an extreme example of this. After one of the worst years in most people's lives, 2021 feels like it's here to save the day.

I know I felt this.

I thought that a ceremonial passing of a new year would completely change my outlook.

And it did.

For a bit.

I set my goals for the year. I looked ahead to all the great things that would happen. I made mental calculations of when I might see my family again after not seeing them at all the year before.

But then reality came back.

The masks. The staying indoors. The cold Montana weather.

And it all started to sink again.

I was experiencing the dip.

What to Do When You're In the Mental Health Dip

Fortunately, I'm now quite aware of this phenomenon.

Nothing can stay aloft forever.

The highs of a a bipolar manic episode might feel good, but the dip can be horrifying, as many of my readers know.

Think about all the times that you expected life to stay a certain way, that you wanted life to stay a certain way.

Did life ever obey your commands?

No, because it never does.

And that doesn't mean you've failed.

It just means that you're experiencing a dip.

And "dip" doesn't have to mean bad. It doesn't have to mean you're stuck in a rut.

The dip is just the dip.

We are the ones who give meaning to it when we label it with our thoughts and emotions.

In fact, we assign meaning to absolutely everything.

"Dip" is just a word, just like "2021" is just a number.

How you interpret what is happening is the antidote.

It always has been, and it always will be.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's easy to interpret yourself into a better state of mind.

But it's necessary.

The dips in life paint the landscape. They give you perspective.

Without them, it would all just be one wide-open blur.

You may not appreciate the dips when they're happening, but the dips are necessary for you to develop your appreciation muscle, period.

Think about that fact.

But not for too long.

Because the goal isn't to obsess over the dips.

It's to learn to see where you are.

Because once you know where you are, it gets much easier to see where you've been--and where you're going next.