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Meditation as a coping mechanism for mental health by Josh Pogonitz

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My name is Josh Pogonitz and I am a Senior at Ida Crown Jewish Academy. I ran for my school’s cross-country team for all four years of high school and the basketball team for three. I struggle with anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and depression. Beginning in eighth grade, I struggled with suicidal thoughts and desires, as well as self-harming throughout my life. Last year, during my junior year of high school, I rediscovered happiness and that life is worth living while in residential and outpatient treatment at Rogers Behavorial Health for seven months. I spoke at No Shame On U’s annual event in November of 2019 about my journey and experience. Additionally, as an 18 Under 18 Honoree, I am pursuing a project in the Jewish community by presenting mental health workshops that talk about my personal experiences and what I’ve learned throughout my mental health journey. My goal is to continue dealing with my own struggles while also shedding hope for other struggling with mental illness.

I wanted to share something with you that has helped me along my journey. I personally love meditations, because they help calm me down when I’m experiencing a lot of emotional pain, like anxiety. Often before I do a meditation, such as before I did this one, ( I may strongly not want to do it because I may be experiencing so much emotional pain, like anxiety. And that is okay, it is normal to feel these ways. While it is okay to feel this way, that does not mean it still cannot be helpful. I cannot count how many times I’ve not wanted to utilize a coping mechanism because of the pain I was experiencing, and it ended up helping. There isn’t a single way in which meditation can help us, in fact it often ends up helping us in ways we do not expect. Some ways that are helpful for me to do this meditation are by closing my eyes and lying down or sitting in a chair. Also, trying to sit or lay down without fidgeting is helpful. When I feel anxious, for example, I often tend to nod my leg up and down very quickly. I’ve learned that this can trigger and cause anxiety in and of itself, and so trying to refrain from doing this can also be super helpful. Another thing that helps me is not focusing on whether the meditation is “working” or not. It may not seem as if it is helping at first but try and give it some time. We can do this, one step at a time!! I love you all! #meditation #selflove #mentalhealthawareness #yougotthis #wegotthis #warriors #together #youarenotalone