This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I think a perfect time to turn your gaze inward at the world within, rather than the one outside.
I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery for a few years now following my own issues with mental health and I’ve learned a lot of things and talked to some amazing people about their views on what makes us all tick.
Something I believe in now, which may seem at first to be controversial is that I think nearly everyone has some sort of mental health issue. This isn’t to diminish anybody’s suffering at all, quite the opposite, it’s to take the stigma away from admitting it and dealing with it. You are in really good company. My view is there ‘s no black and white with mental health, it comes in all sorts of colours, and shades of grey. Some of us can be suffering but manage to function perfectly well in our everyday lives and others may find it impossible to even get out of bed in the morning and face the day. Some of us would never admit they had a problem, even to themselves, but it’s obvious to everyone else that they clearly have one. Conversely some people appear to be the most well-adjusted and highly functioning individuals you could meet, but yet are fighting appalling battles within themselves.
As happened to me, we have a tendency to downplay our problems until it’s too late. It’s a little like driving a car and ignoring the ‘funny noises’ and hoping it’s nothing and they’ll go away. They never go away on their own though and eventually the relevant part fails and you’re sat on the hard shoulder of a motorway wondering what went wrong.
To tenuously stretch my analogy some more, I think we all need to make sure we spend more time on maintenance. Initially, that means spending some time learning to listen out for those funny noises and trying to work out what they are trying to tell you, but ultimately developing the skills to take on the maintenance yourself, with or without the help of a professional.
I think many of us are largely living impossible lives, or should I say driving on roads that are incredibly rough and potholed. That’s not to be nihilistic, but I think many mental health issues stem from being in impossible circumstances either through choice or circumstance, and hoping and expecting that your problems will magically resolve themselves. They won’t unless you address the underlying issues. I can’t give you direct advice on how to do this because frankly I’m not qualified. I also don’t have many answers, just stuff that has worked for me, and what I’ve seen work for others.
I will say that ‘Keeping Calm and Carrying on’ is great advice if your objective is to survive the length of a war, but wars eventually come to an end and then you have to work out a sustainable plan to live the rest of your life without becoming a casualty at the roadside. The good news is even if you do, there are people to help you get back on the road..
I wish you luck on your own journeys.