So it’s an overcast Saturday, tail end of Mental Health Awareness Week and the world is in the middle of a Pandemic.
If you read that sentence last year you would have been like “Woah Soph, You’ve started writing an apocalyptic thriller and want to share it on your Mental health blog, What a shock ending to that sentence!” and I would have been like “yeah, man.”
Unless you have been living under a rock (which arguably would be a pretty safe place right now), you will know that Covid-19 has been doing a number on the world. All jokes aside, it’s a scary time and I am so thankful for key workers and sending love to those who have been affected. ❤
No one is sure what the future will look like and there have been such beautiful moments of coming together that will never be forgotten.
However, as always, I am here to write about Mental health and today I am all about the mental health advantage (Stay with me….)
I was about to write how many weeks we have been on lock down but truth be told I am not 100% sure. 8 maybe? I am working from home so there was a better chance of me knowing than my boyfriend who has been furloughed, and lives in a constant state of The-Days-In-between-Christmas-Day-and-New-Year.
Either way- its been a while. Staying home, restricted outside time, no contact with people outside your home, including family. Video Calls have been a Savior, lounge wear is the new go-to and Out Out means Asda.
And suddenly my battle with mental illness has become an asset. A kind of mental health advantage.
I no longer consider myself ill, however I have good days and bad days, ups and downs and I will never make the assumption that I will never get ill again. That’s something I don’t think anyone can say. Mental health has no prejudice. People who think they are mentally untouchable can also fall foul of mental illness, so I avoid underestimating the power of the brain. But this idea that poor mental health can effect ANYONE is kind of why I am writing today.
Back to the mental health advantage….
In the last 4 years both my boyfriend and I have experienced mental Illness and poor mental health. Both of us have had time off work, counselling, medication for a while and can safely say we are in remission, for want of a better word. We do both experience poor mental health at times, depending on what wild things are going on in our lives, and how well we are actively taking care of our mental health, but nothing to the gravity of what we have been through previously.
However our ability to identify when our mental health is taking a dip, and when we need to up the mental care-taking, has given us a huge mental health advantage.
Lock down, for me and my boyfriend is remarkably similar to our time off with mental illness only this time its the government and not our brain enforcing the isolation and restrictions. Oh and we are both off together (Yikes.) (Actually I’m enjoying not sharing him with the world)
Honestly it a bit freaky. And People who I view as highly driven motivated people, people who may have previously had no experience or understanding of what poor mental health is like, are suddenly forced into a situation that is kind of like what I experienced virtually every day while I was ill;
Long endless days
no plans to look forward to
Lack of motivation
Out of routine
unhealthy eating Habits
Fears about the future
Now, I can only speak from my experiences, and in no way do I think that this is what every type of mental illness looks or feels like. Most of the things on the list are byproducts of the illness I experienced or things the illness robbed me off. But suddenly people everywhere are thrust into this environment and aren’t really sure how to cope when they are thrown out of their normal lifestyles and are very much left with time and their mind.
It’s hard to motivate yourself when you don’t have things you used to look forward isn’t it?
It’s hard to feel like a valuable human when your purpose is gone and you are kind of floating around looking for something to do?
It’s hard to feel like getting in a healthy sleep routine when you don’t have to be up for anything?
It’s hard to resist the urge to do nothing when the structure is gone.
It’s hard to feel calm when nothing seems certain anymore.
It’s hard to stay happy when you feel trapped by the very walls around you.
As someone who has come out the other side, I feel like I have a mental health advantage. I have felt alllllll of these things before, and have developed some coping methods and I am much more aware of my emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of them aren’t possible during this crisis – like hugging my mum – but a lot of them can be and can be adapted for lock down.
People walk around this earth feeling like this lock down every day.
Some people will be in lock down, already experiencing mental illness and will be finding this really hard. Lock down will result in mental illness for some people. Some people, according to Instagram at least, Will boss lock down and come out with 101 new talents, super fit and approximately 1.5 million Banana Breads.
Anyone reading this, who suffers or have suffered from mental illness, or supports someone who does….
We are WARRIORS.
What ever stage you are at of your journey – you have mental awareness, you have trained for lock down, you’ve been to some of the hardest places and have had to pick yourself up piece by piece.
Some of you already know what it is like to fight the battle that is getting out of bed.
Some of you already know that, simple self care like regularly showering is important mentally.
Some of you already know what it is like to try and keep your mind occupied to stop it wandering.
Some of you fight this fight every single day, lock down or not.
We are Warriors.
And we are welcoming some people to the mental health family. People that haven’t had to stop and actively care for their mental health are now finding them selves needing to.
And as seasoned warriors, lets look out after them.
Lets share the things that have got us through our darkest time so that together we can get through this bizarre time. Lets check in on each other.
You may know someone who fights everyday, or has fought in the past.
You may know someone who is showing signs of poor mental health.
You may know someone who seems absolutely fine.
You may know someone who is supporting a loved one who fights mental illness.
Basically what I am getting at is, YOU NEVER KNOW HOW PEOPLE ARE FEELING – so if you can, if you feel like it is something you have capacity to do – check in – what ever way you find comfortable – message, email, call, interact on social media. Let people know you are here.
3 things that help my mental health lock down or otherwise:
1) lists – but manageable ones. I always write wake up, shower, breakfast etc. No task is too small and is an accomplishment and gives your day some structure.
2) Fresh air – A guideline appropriate walk, no matter how short. or in failing that, crack open a window and get some air flowing – stagnant air always makes me feel worse.
3) Talking Videos on you tube – when I feel weighed down or unable to ‘get up and get on’ or when I am going to sleep, I find listening to motivational videos in my earphones, helps me quieten down the mind-chatter that can sometimes downward spiral. My boyfriend prefers audio books. Essentially, through trial and error, find something that helps to distract and focus your thoughts.
These things help me and yours may be different.
If you come out of lock down having been super productive – Awesome congratulations
If you come out of lock down a world class chef – Fab, come cook me food
If you come out of lock down an exerciser guru – top notch!
If you come out of lock down full stop. Well done. you’ve weathered the storm. You have done it. You have got through it.
If you need extra help, or you are really struggling then please reach out. MIND are an amazing organisation, and there are loads more, that can give you the helping you need. (you can follow the link in my menu button)
You are not weak, or bad or a failure, you are a WARRIOR.
And sometimes Warriors need back-up from other warriors.
Mental health awareness and looking after it is not a weakness. Its an advantage.
And I wear mine with pride.
I am Sophie Rose, I actively take care of my mental health. Sometimes my mental health is low, So low that I’ve (eventually) reached out and got the help I deserve.
I have lost my Dad to mental illness but I’ve also seen people change their whole life for the better by addressing their mental health. I am a Warrior and I have the mental health advantage.
Happy mental health awareness week ❤