I write to you from what feels like the centre of the storm, that is my mental health.
It is an interesting thing to talk about, or to write about even. The effect of mental health is not something people can see when they look at me. You can see my wheelchair, my crutches, the waddle in my walk. It is easier to understand the presence of a physical limitation, but we are often quick to judge when people distance themselves from us, swerve social gatherings, do not reply to messages etc.
When you look at me you will not see a lifetime of depression and anxiety, that is because it is only now that I have had the vocabulary to identify these thoughts and feelings.
The last 16 months as we have all been locked down, I have been able to sit in my thoughts, and work through different stages of my life, to the point where I’ve been able to get comfortable with the uncomfortable reality of some of my life experiences.
Through all the trauma I have experienced, now I am understanding the effects these have had on me. There is always a reason for why we think the way we do, why certain things make us anxious, certain behaviours and habits we have etc. It is a fascinating process to try and understand your past and present self.
To give you some perspective on me personally, here is a list of 10 things I experience when my mental health is poor;
- Feeling hypersensitive and overstimulated
- Socially withdrawn
- Obsessive behaviours
- Inability to meet deadlines
- Poor and little sleep
- Poor communication
- Panic attacks
- Getting distracted/lost in unhealthy habits
Of course, there is much more to be said about how poor mental health manifests, but I am working with a word count here! I just wanted to share with you some things that I find difficult, because maybe these are things that you struggle with too. You are not alone.
What I have found to alleviate my anxiety is to have as much structure as possible and to fill each day with a handful of achievable goals and good habits. For me this looks like; making the bed when I get up in the morning, eating 3 meals a day, doing the washing up, going outside, doing some physical exercise etc. I also consider myself to be quite a creative person, so I find colouring really grounding, and journaling my thoughts and feelings has been a good way to unravel all these feelings too.
Something I would like to share is that I have recently re-embarked on my own recovery journey, starting a new (to me) type of psychotherapy. It is early days but I am going into it knowing I’m ready to create space for the things that have weighed me down. There are things I know I need time to explore. Some things I know I need closure on and others I would like to be able to turn into bigger conversations one day, when I am ready.
For now, take care. Be kind to yourself and others. Today is a new day…