Mental Health Day

It’s great that mental health is being talked about but is one mental health day enough?

Bryony Gordon’s interview with Prince Harry, as well as the royals’ Heads Together campaign, has been helpful in starting to de-stigmatise mental health issues and get people discussing the challenges that many face.  It only goes so far though and there is still a long way to go in changing people’s understanding of mental health.  That mental health and mental illness are different. That we can all do our bit to help those who are struggling with mental health issues by showing compassion and understanding.

Today papers, radio and television have publicized mental health issues. What about tomorrow and the next day though?  Will people forget to ask twice if people are okay and really listen to the answers?  Will people pause in their busy lives and connect with one another?

So much of twenty-first century life is fast paced and overwhelming.  People struggle with information overload, fear of missing out (FOMO), poor work-life balance or lack of self worth through unemployment.  Negative pressure is imposed by trying to live up to the soft focus, narcissistic selfies or self-hatred fuelled by comparison against others’ curated lives on social media.  Perhaps it’s time to take a break from the screens and start living in an unfiltered, and sometimes unflattering, but real way? Talking face to face rather than sending bland likes or emojis?

Being content isn’t always easy.  Most people can struggle, wanting to fit in, be accepted and present themselves well.  Some days I can look great, others I look shocking.  I am still me.  My friends, real friends, still love me whatever I look like.  I am not perfect, nobody is.  I am learning to be content as an imperfect person.  It is ok to just be ok, and it’s ok not to be ok and people should still be loving and accepting.

Some days I can feel great.  I have slept well, eaten well, am well hydrated and things are ok in my life. Other times my depression sneaks up on me, my anxiety peaks and I feel like I am going to die.  I am not fit mentally or physically but am training in both areas to get fitter.

Walking helps my mood, breathing fresh air calms my anxiety and being in nature is restful.  I practice gratitude and always go to bed thinking of three things to be thankful for.  One day is not enough to train the brain or body.  So, mental health day is great but it only goes so far.

We need to be kind to ourselves and others every day and do whatever we can to help ourselves and others live their lives to the fullest. Let’s be more compassionate and less judgemental of ourselves and others and practice gratitude. Mental health is for life not just for today.

 

#mentalhealth #mentalhealthday #gratitude #compassion #kindness

A pressing question

‘To press someone for an answer,’ has entered the English language as a phrase to suggest emotionally, or in a time-limited way, putting pressure on someone to give a response.

This is not the true sense of the phrase. In the past people were placed on their backs with a stone beneath them and a door or panel placed on top of them to which rocks were added. They were literally ‘pressed for an answer.’ Many died. A ‘pressing question’ was not a searching question asked by Jeremy Paxman of a politician but a question of life or death; answering or not answering.

When you are suffering from anxiety making a decision whether to remain in your job or leave feels like a pressing question in every sense of the phrase.

The chest feels tight and heavy as though pressed by heavy rocks. Adrenaline and cortisol pump through the veins making the heart pound even though the body and mind feels leaden. Rational thought is absent. Decisions take on the weight and size of unbearable rocks.

Will making a decision lighten the load? Will a decision ease the anxiety?

The irony is that when you are pressed by anxiety decision making is too much of a challenge. The pressing question remains pressing but unanswered and your back is bowed. Time will tell if you will break.