World Mental HealthDay 2020.
Where to even start?
I wish there was an emoji for what we’re all feeling, because believe me, I haven’t found the words.
It’s been a rough ride, and many of us are so so weary. On top of life’s usual challenges, 2020 gave us a global pandemic, loss of life, jobs, furlough, quarantine, social distancing, self-isolating, a recession, and an unhealthy dose of uncertainty about our future.
It’s been a heavy year, and it’s not yet over. The events of 2020 is affecting all of us differently. The uncertainty can be worrying, it is scary and anxiety-inducing. Some of us will have developed mental health problems we’ve never experienced before, while others will experience an exacerbation of existing symptoms.
Mind, the charity found that 60 percent of adults it surveyed and two thirds of young people said their mental health got worse during lockdown.
We have to prioritise looking after our mental health. With everything going on, it might feel especially hard to focus on this, if you’re worrying about work, money, the space you’re isolated in, your safety, when you’ll see your family again, or people you’ve lost. But for us to get through this we must secure our wellbeing and our mental health in particular is vulnerable as many of us are under so many pressures.
I lost my irreplaceable Ma, Uncle Mervs and Aunty Berta in June. I didn’t get to say goodbye.
I went for weeks without sleep, in a heightened state of anxiety and panic, wondering what to do with the hollowness inside me. There was a point where I’d not left the house in weeks. When I returned to work, the thought of getting on the Tube triggered the ugliest anxiety attacks, which triggered my IBS, so I couldn’t get very far. It took several attempts (different days) before I managed to leave the house.
Do one thing
We’re all going through a tough time this year. We all have different kinds of tough, because some of us are more isolated, perhaps more at-risk of getting the virus, chronically ill, unemployed…
I had started feeling particularly worried because I didn’t know if I could contain the overwhelming feelings bubbling inside of me.
What has helped is doing little things to look after my mental health. Sometimes when we’re in the throes of pain we just have to do what we can, when we can.
I didn’t manage to shower, to always eat or sleep or leave the bed, but I cared about the sunflowers I’d planted in March because they reminded me of my green thumbed Ma. They blossomed in June, and I thought how proud she would be if she could see what my hands had planted. So I made an effort to water them as often as I could.It can be hard knowing where to start when it comes to looking after our mental health and that of people we care for. But sometimes the smallest things make the biggest differences. Click To Tweet
When I realised I wasn’t coping I talked to friends. When that didn’t help I started grief counselling. Everyday things were hard when I crashed, but I broke the day into bits and did what I could for basic sustenance. My neighbours texted to see if I was ok. After weeks indoors, Zoe took me on short socially distanced walks. One day my neighbour Tansy called me over to help them pot some plants. My team at work sent me flowers.
It can be hard knowing where to start when it comes to looking after our mental health and that of people we care for. But sometimes the smallest things make the biggest differences.
It could be reaching out for support, checking in on a friend, having a conversation about how we’re feeling, sharing our stories so people know they’re no alone in this.
That’s why I love Mind’s Do one thing campaign. I’d like to encourage you to do one thing for your own mental health and for someone else’s.
Here are some things I’m going to do for myself and others this weekend:
• Check in on a friend
• Allow myself as much sleep I feel I need without feeling guilty
• Do that therapy exercise I’ve been putting off
What’s one thing you will do for yourself or someone else this week to promote good mental health and wellbeing? Download this fun calendar with tips from Mind.
Get some more ideas here.