Recently we've been having some honest conversations in our house about mental health, I think this year has caused us all to check in and understand how we are feeling and we all are making a concerted effort to manage our own mental health.
But what does that phrase really mean? And how easy is it?
Mental health and the brain are funny things, if we have an injured or ill mind it's not the same as having an injured leg or the flu, when we have an injured leg or the flu our body tells the brain somethings isn't right and we need to do something about it, but when it's the brain that actually needs this help, well, who does the brain tell?
It doesn't tend to tell itself, and so things easily get missed, brushed under the carpet or more often than not, we just don't realise until it gets bad.
In the book the body keeps the score it talks about how our body will always show signs of ill health, mentally and physically and when we suffer from a ill or injured mind quite often this comes out in ways through the body. But again we don't notice this as an ill mind and we can easily get caught up in the physical symptoms and not trace it back to the brain.
This is where I hung out for a lot of years, being caught up in my physical symptoms meant that I missed the cause, my injured brain. But now I have the root of the symptoms my thoughts and focus have turned to how I can best look after and help my brain heal.
And part of this is through managing and actively looking after my mental health.
I was listening to a woman talk about how she lived with her husband who had severe mental health difficulties and how in caring for him she lost herself, she put it as she felt his care was far more important than the yoga class she wanted to go to or the run she used to do daily. She said how this was wrong, how we all need to remember to do things for us too.
This stuck, because it's not only people looking after someone who is ill that need to do this, it's mums and dads, it's friends who are helping other friends through tough times, its daughters and sons that are caring for elderly parents, it's people who are taking on a lot at work, it's anyone who is human!
So then I asked myself what stops us? Yes it's the thought that the 'other' is more important, but what happens if we rephrase the sentence.
Instead of saying, "........'s care is more important than my yoga class" what if we said ".......'s care is more important than my mental health"?? Suddenly that sounds very different to me, suddenly it doesn't feel so true and suddenly I notice actually what not going to that yoga class really means.
A lot of the 'hobbies' people do in their lives aren't just about not getting bored, most adults do these hobbies because they make them feel better, happier, like they have something to look forward to. This is us managing our mental health. And it's only when life steps in a removes these hobbies can we start to really notice how much they helped us feel good.
I've really noticed my mental health suffer from not being able to ride or send time with my horses regularly. For the past 2 years I've been saying to myself "Olive's care, time with Tim, Work are all far more important than riding" so I've let it slide, shoved it to the side and told myself one day in the future I'll come back to that.
But, what I've really noticed is how much more numb I am, how I get frustrated easily, how I am flat even when I'm feeling good, basically how my mental health dips when I haven't had that time.
So in my head I've switched the sentence to "my mental health is just as important as everyone else"
I talk a lot about the quote 'you can't drink from an empty cup' and I always say we can't hold space for others or care for others fully if we are empty. I always knew this, but it's not until recently have I really felt the rawness of what empty actually feels like whilst your caring for another.
Mental health is a huge subject, our brains are our most important asset yet we rarely speak about them or address the issues around them.
So here's me, asking you, how are you managing your mental health at the moment?
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