It’s been a while since I’ve had the courage to commit my words to paper, and yet, every day for the last few months, I’ve felt compelled to deliver a message.
I wanted to do that so much, so I took to my Facebook live and recorded myself without any script, without any screen to hide behind, and I spoke about the topic that’s often in the media lately—I spoke about mental health.
I spoke about my mental health, because I wanted people to see the pain behind my illness. I see myself as a highly functioning person with mental health issues, yet at times, my illness (if you want to call it that) has spilled over, and the highly functioning human being that I can often present is dropping the mask.
When the mask slips, I feel like people see the truth behind it and think to themselves, “Holy sh*t, this girl is really f*cking crazy.” That’s one of my many fears. In addition to thinking that I’m crazy, maybe they’ll think that I’m a bad person. This torments me too as all I want is to be seen as a good person. However, I don’t know why that’s so important—maybe it’s because I feel that I’m not.
The question that I ponder over the most with mental health, and mine in particular, is what came first—the chicken or the egg? What I mean by that is: is it my life’s circumstances that have caused my mental health issues or is it my mental health issues that have caused my circumstances? Either way, both are disempowering; I’m either giving into my mental health or I’m giving into my life circumstances.
I never realised that, but as I look back in hindsight, I see that for my whole life, I have been trying to either manage my mental health, find a solution for it, or simply find a magic pill to cure me. From shamanic healing practices, to yoga, exercise, meditation, and diet, I still haven’t found the magic potion. Well, the tools I’ve found have certainly helped me, and I’ll talk about them a little more, but what I’ve also found is that when I need them the most, I fail to use them.
Having lived with mental health for 30 years, I found ways that helped me build up resilience, and allowed me to grow, evolve, and live in this world and make friends with the illness that is invisible, yet so strong and powerful at times.
Here’s what I’ve uncovered:
1. Avoid comparing and despairing.
It’s normally when I’m hanging on in there that I read something on social media or hear something about somebody from the past, or even the present, when my mind wanders off, and I go on a journey into despair.
I start comparing my life to theirs, and because I’m not where I wish to be in my life right now, I confirm like an affirmation to myself that I’ve failed. That’s when that bad person comes in: maybe if I was a better person, the universe would reward me better, but you and I both know that it doesn’t work like that.
It could be an ex or anybody else, but it is only through appearances that they’re living the life I wish I could lead. Say this to yourself out loud if you need to stop: By seeing or hearing this information, how has it really changed my life?
It hasn’t and neither should it have any bearing on our life moving forward. Where focus goes energy flows, so let’s focus all of that beautiful energy back onto ourselves.
2. Be grateful for every single problem that comes your way.
I recently watched a YouTube clip from a meditation teacher—a guru who enthusiastically spoke about being grateful for all of the problems that we have. Say to the universe or God, “Thank you!”
This is our opportunity to learn a lesson and to grow. Without problems, life is simply boring.
3. Do the things that you don’t want to do but you know could be your medicine.
When I need to sleep earlier and rest, I stay up late watching box sets. When I need to meditate to calm my mind, I peruse social media. When I need to eat healthy, I fill my body with crap. When I need to drink water, I drink coffee and wine, and all that makes me suffer in a way that is harder to come back from.
You could also do the opposite: eat healthy, meditate, exercise, take a walk in the fresh air, soak in the bath, have an early night, and nurture yourself.
4. Because of my illness, I lost friends, as I haven’t made it clear how bad my illness has gotten.
All that people have been left with are the childish ways in which I try to seek attention and all of the f*cked up ways I manipulate or do weird sh*t to be seen and heard. In fact, all I really want to say is that I’m struggling and I can’t cope right now, so please bare with me and know that I’m not myself.
Let people in. If they still reject us, then we don’t need those individuals in our life, but if they stay and they get it, we should allow them in even if we don’t want to talk about it, but instead we could go for a walk or a coffee.
5. This too shall pass.
I realise that now, and to quote the cheesy lyrics of Ronan Keating, “Life is a roller coaster—you just gotta ride it.” For every up, there will be a down, and for every high, there will be a low, so avoid judging things as good or bad—simply allow your life to be an experience, and know that you’re not alone out there.
There are millions of people struggling in life, but you won’t always see them. There are groups and charities and people who want to help, so get involved and find these support networks or create your own.
You’ve got this!