Some reflection on #WorldMentalHealthDay

Today is world mental health day so I thought I’d add a post. For the past year now I’ve been dealing with my own issues and getting the help I need to ensure I can still do what I need to do.  I have learned to really appreciate over that time that I need to look after myself a lot better than what I had been doing. I also learned that I have so much support from everyone in sharing this a bit further than the family and friends that knew. Some people may not be comfortable sharing how they are feeling and when I first went back to work after last summer I didn’t want anyone to know bar the few folk I did tell. It was just an automatic reaction – I wanted to just get things back to normal as it were and thought that a few weeks and I’d be fine. Here we are a year later and things are finally falling into place. I learned that I need to be patient things take time and there is nothing more important than healing your mental health. It was to start a nightmare – not wanting to go to work – not sleeping the night before, or having a very bad sleep, panicking on the way to work and then once in work it was fine. It was more the actual thought of the process of going to work that raised my anxiety through the roof. I’d also lost interest in activities that I’d normally do such as reading, watching movies even my new lego kit lay untouched for a good while. Certain activities do that to me as well such as travelling to new places or doing something for the first time.  But I can’t let my anxiety stop me from doing things either – I had the opportunity of a lifetime last year when I was able to go to Abbey Road and participate in the hackathon event last November.

Anxiety inducing wasn’t the word – new folk, new place, travelling, London but I realised I can’t let the anxiety define me. Things like that don’t happen every week/year/lifetime! It was so worth it for sure met so many fabulous people and got to work in Studio 2 as well as be in studio 3 as well overnight for some shut eye. I then had to get up in front of everyone and present the idea that me and my hackathon partner Marjan(super talented artist who really has done some spectacular digital art )  had came up with – an app that glitched your face coined it the Gelfie lol it was a fun thing to do and we had a great time. We were first up so my anxiety didn’t have much time to actually think.  Coming away from that realised I can do things when I put my mind to them but I need to stop letting my anxiety get the better of me. I have been working a lot over the past year on various strategies to help myself then Covid hit and felt back to square one again. Which is when I got into blogging again – I felt it was a good way of telling folk how I was feeling and just discussing mental health. Which I feel really needs brought out more in discussions, there’s always been a stigma about it and there shouldn’t be at the end of the day we all have mental health it’s just sometimes its in good condition and sometimes bad. We need to work on keeping the good but being there to help with the bad. People shouldn’t feel like they have to hide away they have issues as I did at the start.  But with the impending lockdown and hearing so many folk complain of they were going to “go Crazy” I felt I had to speak out a bit to show that some folk were already going into lockdown with a disadvantage. Services that I had access to were stopped and I also lost the whole routine of being in work and talking to those in person who were supporting me.  Blogging was a way of communicating and trying to get my thoughts down at least on what was happening. It showed me that I had a bigger support network than I realised and that maybe I should have spoken up sooner about it. However I suppose things stopped me at the time such as worrying about what everyone would think when really that wasn’t an issue at all. Mental health issues can affect anyone no matter what you do – it doesn’t stop me doing my job at all as I am supported so well but I realise the implications it can have in general if that isn’t in place for folk which is why we really need to be open about talking about it. During lockdown there was a lot of talk from students of lost motivation and I had to be frank with them and let theme know it was happening to a lot of people including us lecturers so we genuinely did understand how they were feeling. I think that helped a lot knowing we were all in the same boat I guess. We are only human after all. It’s not something you can snap out of or just change as I have found you need to work hard every day – some days will be good and you get on with it while others will be absolutely crappy but on those days I have finally realised that tomorrow is a new day and a new start. I cannot and wont let the bad days overtake now. We have to look out for each other and remember that even the tiniest of actions can have a massive effect on someones day – be it a little text or email just to ask how they are doing or call to check up on them even send a letter!

I have made quite a few changes since March to try and help myself again and even took up running (well attempted running) at the end of June. 3 times a week out and about trying to do the couch to 5k routine.

I’ve missed a few weeks during that time but on the whole have stuck to it though still stuck at week 4 – however I also do have to be careful on that front as it seems my medication can have an effect as well along with exercise. So I’ll stick to getting out and doing the little runs for now rather than pushing to get the whole 30 minute run. At least I’m trying 😊 longest I’ve stuck to anything. I’ve also started some mindfulness sessions again with my amazing colleague Sandra whom I’ve written about before she’s a total star.

I’d also like to remind people that while today is about bringing awareness every day is a day with your mental health and it’s not something we can just stop talking about. Keep the conversation going and keep supporting those you know who are struggling, kind words cost nothing. You can get through it and it will get better – not overnight but it will get better that I can safely say now. I still have a while to go on my journey but it’s going in the right direction.

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