It’s a tricky subject, Mental Health. Like most aspects of health, you don’t notice when it’s fine. But boy does it ever alter your life when it’s not. And not only can it make your own life very hard, but you have the added burden of dealing with how other people react to you.
People can’t see mental health problems the way they can see a broken leg, so they don’t make allowances. Nobody will ask you to just nip to the shops for them if your leg is in plaster, but they might well expect you to turn up on time to a meeting, because they haven’t realised how difficult it is for you to get out of the door due to anxiety or how bad you feel about yourself.
People often don’t understand mental health issues. They see a “perfectly healthy person” who “just can’t be bothered to make the effort” to do things. Someone who hasn’t experienced mental health problems themselves or in someone close to them often does not grasp that how no matter what you look like on the outside, you may be falling apart on the inside. Nor do they realise how hard that makes it just to function, let alone do anything else at all.
Because they can’t see it and don’t understand it, a lot of people have an underlying fear of mental illness. This is made much worse by the fact that even if they want to help, they don’t know what to do. So they will often greet you with a smile and move quickly on.
We don’t need any more difficulties here, but it’s nonetheless important to mention that if you are not feeling great in yourself, it’s hard to communicate with others. Maybe you are anxious, frightened or full of shame and self-loathing. Perhaps you are grieving, or your mind is full of fog, or you lack self-confidence and just don’t feel good enough. Or you might be totally stressed out and completely overwhelmed and no longer able to cope. Whatever your mental health challenge is, it’s hard to find enough energy to interact with others. And even if you can find that energy, it’s often very difficult to talk about how you feel.
So what can you do?
The first thing is to remember that you are not alone. Mental health problems are hugely under-reported, but even those figures we have show it is a shockingly widespread problem. Plus with the effects of the pandemic we are living through, it’s a problem that more and more people are suffering from.
The second thing is to remember that it’s NOT your fault. Try not to judge yourself the way you feel the world does. It is no more your fault that you are finding staying afloat mentally hard work, than it is another person’s fault they have developed eczema or cystitis or a frozen shoulder.
We all have our own individual susceptibilities; areas where our health is less robust than elsewhere. This has its origins partly in what we inherit in our genes and partly in what happens to us in our lives.
So you can inherit a tendency to asthma in the wet, but if you live in a hot dry country, it may never be a problem. Whereas if you live in a damp house in the UK, this inherited tendency may well start to affect your health.
Likewise, you may be an emotionally sensitive person. Then you may suffer the grief of a death or a broken relationship at a time when you are exhausted by the demands of young children and/or a very heavy workload. The combination of your inherited sensitivity and your current situation mean that you are unable to move on, so you just can’t stop grieving.
The third thing is to be kind to yourself. This is really important. It is so easy to feel bad about yourself if your mental health is not good. You can feel ashamed and guilty, just not good enough and a waste of space.
It is really important to try very hard not to let yourself get trapped in these negative thoughts. You have your value and your place in the world, and right now you need to be kind to yourself, not criticise yourself. You wouldn’t criticise someone who was sad, you would try to provide comfort and makes things easier for them.
So do at least that much for yourself, by making sure to do something just for you once a day. Maybe have an Epsom salts bath – 20 minutes of peace with no demands from anywhere, including your head. Maybe spend time concentrating on the light and colour in some flowers or really listening to your favourite piece of music, or re-reading a book or some poetry that speaks to you. Find the beauty in small things and allow it to spread out a bit in your head.
Make a space for the being that is you to flourish, away from the thoughts that drag you down. Put those thoughts on hold for a short while and focus on something that allows you to let go for bit.
Lastly, look for cracks to let in some light. Try to find someone to talk to, someone non-judgemental who will hear what you are saying. It will be an ongoing conversation, because you need time to explore what’s going on, and time for your listener to understand. In the process you may start to get some distance from all the noise in your head and gain some clarity, where before there was just confusion.
It’s hard to find recommendations by word of mouth for mental health issues because no-one really wants to advertise their mental health problems in casual conversations. But there is a lot of information on the internet. You can really see that you are not alone, and you can read about other people’s experiences and learn what has helped them.
You can find descriptions of how things changed for others with homeopathy here. It doesn’t matter what path you are thinking of taking, the important thing is to grasp that how you feel really can change: you just have to find the right route for you.
Something in what you read may resonate with you in some way. Maybe it will be completely unexpected. But it might open up a crack letting in some light and giving you an idea of which way to direct your steps to start to change things.
You can find more thoughts about how to help yourself here in Doing It For Yourself.
- Silhouette of man with outstretched arms: zac-durant-_6HzPU9Hyfg-unsplash.
- Woman with watermelon smile: caju-gomes-QDq3YliZg48-unsplash