Ok. Why is mental health so difficult for me to write about? I don’t really mind talking about it. In fact, more recently I feel like I’ve challenged myself to talk about it more. But when I come to write about it, everything sounds a bit ‘wazzy’. Which is my word for ‘a bit pretentious and trite’.
More and more, I appreciate how my mental health is the foundation of everything I want to achieve. This feels like a revelation to me. Maybe it’s a bloody obvious one.
If I have a virus or a stomach bug or my body is telling me it’s sick, I’ll take the time to recover. If my brain is telling me it’s anxious and I’m exhausted and I want to cry a lot…? I tend to tell it to shut up and get on with it.
I’m pathetic when I have a cold, but stubborn when my brain is begging for mercy.
Even if it’s not as intense as that. Just thinking of the amount of times I feel a bit run down. Like I just need a little more time to do everything. To be all the things and all the people I need to be for each facet of my life. It can be exhausting.
I overthink. I care a lot. I’ve been told I’m ‘highly emotionally intelligent’. But what does that mean in real life? To me, it often feels like I’ve got too many emotions swimming about and can see things from everyone else’s point of view but my own.
I haven’t been diagnosed with any sort of anxiety disorder, but I do occasionally have panic attacks. In times of stress I can find it hard to breathe, or get to the point where I’m physically sick. This can happen randomly, and is scary. And I feel like it’s just starting to be ok to say that.
I want to live in a world where it’s ok to say you’re feeling a bit crap, overwhelmed, short of breath…and not worry how that will be seen. If you take medication for anxiety or depression, have it not be an admission, but a statement. The same as, ‘Yes, I take ‘x’ for my eczema, and ‘y’ for my diabetes.’
I guess I want equality. Our mental health is not a dirty secret. It’s our foundation. Top athletes have sports psychologists as part of their team to get them ready for a 10 second sprint. Don’t we deserve some acknowledgement and support of our own mental wellbeing, for this marathon of life?
Especially when it can have such a physical impact.
For example, I had a full blown panic attack on the way to work. The full works: hyperventilating, dizzy, pins and needles in my hands, numbness in my face, sweating… And it came from nowhere. There wasn’t a specific incident which set it off, my mind was just wandering as I made my way to work, and this sensation hit me like a truck. Sometimes it’s like that. I did tell work colleagues about it, but it was more a challenge to myself to be open, and the fact I felt exhausted when I arrived at work.
Panic attacks aren’t the only form it can take. Fatigue, crushing chest pain, memory loss. I had a period of time when I genuinely feared I was getting incredibly early onset dementia. I could not formulate a sentence. I would get part way through and lose my words. That’s the only way I can describe it. All cognitive processing just stopped. It wasn’t even on the tip of my tongue, it was just gone. I would stand gaping at members of my family, or work colleagues, feeling stupid and scared.
I know I feel better when I put time aside for myself. When I do even 10 minutes of meditation, or sit down with a book for half an hour (ok, 3 hours, 4 brews and a nap).
Aside from that, neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is the most beneficial thing I have engaged in. I finally decided I needed to talk to someone after the mental block/gaping episodes and had a wonderful lady recommended to me.
It seems to work for my brain. It connects a lot of the dots. I think it helps that the lady I see for that is so bloody clever and we basically have coffee and chat. It feels like learning, and accepting, and growing.
And if all else fails, I have my beautiful Mumma’s voice in my head or in person, telling me simply, ‘this too shall pass.’