DO YOU LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?

Hand Drawing of head

Taking care of our mental health is something that I am very passionate about and as it was World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October. I thought, it was the perfect opportunity to broach the topic. I find it hard to believe that even though there is so much information now readily available about mental health, there is still so much stigma attached to it. Why is it ok to discuss our physical health and seek support for it, but our emotional wellbeing is not a topic for general discussion? I’m of the opinion that our mental health is equal to or even more important than our physical health and is something that needs to be more openly talked about.

Group Discussion
Photo by Ben Duchac on Unsplash

Mental illness is just like physical illness, in that they both often start off small and when the symptoms are not addressed they develop into something much bigger, that needs more intensive treatment. When someone has a physical injury people around them are more likely to broach the subject and urge them to get medical attention. Would you be prepared to broach the topic of suspected mental illness with someone in your network? Often the signs of mental illness are more visible to those around us, way before we recognise it ourselves. I’m sure that if the stigma surrounding mental health was to disappear, more people would reach out to offer or seek support when they are mentally unwell. How often have you noticed that someone seemed stressed and you chose to ignore it? When someone experiences high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time, or a one off traumatic event, it can easily lead to depression, anxiety disorders, adrenal and chronic fatigue.

water ripples
Photo by Levi XU on Unsplash

Often people think that Post Traumatic Stress disorder only occurs after experiencing war or something like a national disaster. Where in fact, it can be anything you experience that is traumatic and has an ongoing impact on your day to day living. Often when someone is impacted by something that may not be affecting others, they are given the message that they are making a mountain out of a mole hill and need to just harden up and get over it. I can assure you that these comments are never helpful and will encourage the person to bottle up their feelings, which only intensifies them, rather than making them disappear. I have personally been in this situation twice before, the first time it was emotional and physical abuse by a now previous husband and the second time it was emotional abuse by close family members. The first went undiagnosed by medical professionals and it was not until after escaping the second situation, was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosed. Thankfully, since seeking the support from a wonderful councillor and some deeper understanding after gaining my social work qualifications, I was able to lay these demons to rest and move forward, knowing that none of it was my fault. Living with such high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time, has left my mental state somewhat more fragile. Hence why I urge you all to put mental health at the top of your radar.

Stress Balance

Managing stress

Stress: occurs when there is an imbalance between the demands being made on you and your resources to cope with those demands.

Stress Triggers: ongoing health issues, relationship problems, work satisfaction, unemployment, financial difficulties, bereavement, exams, deadlines & unrealistic expectations.

Symptoms: headaches, muscle tension, neck & back pain, jittery, irritable, angry, over or under eating, rapid heartbeat, upset stomach, chest pain, overwhelmed, continually tired, lack of concentration, reliant on stimulants, skin irritations, mouth ulcers, colds rashes, insomnia & irregular breathing.

Stress Management Tools: deep breathing, journal writing, the use of planning & organisational tools, physical activity, health eating, quality sleep patterns, meditation, yoga, hobbies, & supportive social connections.

 

Does your mental health care plan need an overhaul?

 

Jenni XXX

  • LydiaCLee

    Good tips. I find when I get overwhelmed, making time to exercise tends to help – I went to a talk and they said 20 mins of exercise, three times a week had the same effect as an antidepressant, so I guess that’s why

    • When you exercise for thirty minutes or more at a time, your body releases endorphins and it is these that are responsible for living your mood. You only have to include three 30min sessions of moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking, to reap the benefits.

  • Great tips. I think I’ve been in danger of tipping over the edge twice. In fact, I suspect I have tipped. Both have been work related stress & in both cases I recognised what was happening at the precise time I would have slipped & removed myself (with difficulty) from the situation. I should have sought help, but didn’t. These days if I’m having an off day I exercise. I also have a playlist with just songs that make me feel good & force myself to listen to it. But for sustained stress & sustained symptoms? Would I seek help in the future? I’d like to hope so.

    • Music and exercise are both great ways to build up the reserves in your mental health bank, for those odd times when when can’t avoid a stressful situation.

  • Great reminder that the best way to manage stress is to keep life simple and enjoy it.

    • I think it’s something that deep down we all know. If only we gave ourselves the breathing space to listen to what our inner self is telling us.

  • Vanessa Connor

    I have an anxiety disorder that I constantly manage. You’re so right about how mental health is treated differently than physical health. I’ve been diagnosed with ASD and anxiety and was left to my own devices… But when I was diagnosed with breast cancer I had a whole team of professionals. Sigh.

    Am off to the GP tomorrow for yet another mental health plan. I am letting myself down by not getting enough exercise. It’s one of the main things that helps me. Thanks for the reminder to get myself moving. Ness

    • My son was diagnosed with a mild form of ASD and anxiety at the age of 7. Thankfully it was picked up when he was young and we were able to get amazing support for both of us. He has learn’t lots of ways to manage the day to day effects and most of the time is able to recognise when things are getting to much before he overloads. Have you tried Yoga? it’s something that you can do at home and is great for mind and body. I hope things go well for your Dr’s visit this week.

  • Thank you so so much for sharing this! I have recently been diagnosed with Bipolar and have been so saddened that people close to me, knowing my diagnosis and the deep deep lows I experienced before being diagnosed, have not even asked how I am. I am not afraid to share that I have a mental illness and hope to blog more on the topic so that it helps others without mental illness to understand and perhaps break down some barriers. I was undiagnosed for so long, possibly misdiagnosed as I always presented with depression and anxiety, they never picked up on my hypermania. It was a new psychologist and psychiatrist that finally discovered it after a number of sessions and I”m so grateful to them because now I can properly manage it.

    Like Vanessa, one thing I need to get back into is exercise. Since having my daughter last year, doing the school runs with my 5 year old and running my own business, it’s just fallen by the wayside but I know for a fact that it will help with my mental health.

    Thanks again for building awareness.

    • I’m so glad that you finally have the correct diagnosis, i’m sure it was such a relief to finally understand why you have been feeling the way you have. when people don’t know what to say, they just avoid the the topic and pretend that nothing has happened. I would suggest that starting with someone you really trust, start a conversation about your experiences with bipolar and let them know how they can support you. Finding a way to fit exercise into your daily routine is well worth the effort. Is it possible to do the school drop off or pick up by foot?

  • I’m dealing with a toxic fellow worker atm – who also happens to be the boss’s wife – so I have to figure out ways to keep my mental health in the safe zone. I’ve been down the depression rabbit hole once before and I don’t want to end up there again – so it’s a matter of figuring out what to do, or leaving – because it can’t continue. Thanks for sharing your journey – the more open we are the better it is for everyone.

    • What is it about the toxic co worker that irritates you the most? Often getting this clarity about the situation, will help you to formulate a plan to mange the situation the best you can. Are there others in the work place that feel the same as you, who may be prepared to work with you to address the situation. No job is worth sacrificing your mental health for long term.

  • Gosh I not only read your post with your stories but then I read the commenters. Mental health is a so called sign of failure (to many and if I admit it, me too) and it is not. However, how to break the stigma is to share it and as someone who felt distress and shame at her inability to manage a school when I was suffering from work burnout, what we each need to do is accept it within ourselves. It has taken me almost 14 years to come to that point. It has been as a result of my own learning, some sessions with a psychologist and a caring husband who has trained and is a counsellor that I can finally…finally admit to not being perfect…or well. As Vanessa says further down, having cancer brings out all the support systems but mental health not so much. I honestly think too that others cannot be expected to understand mental health unless they have true compassion or have had issues themselves. Thank you for a very important post. Thanks for linking up for Life This Week 40/52. Next week: With $1000 I would…

    • I’m so pleased that you have come to accept burnout for what it is and not hold your self ransom to it anymore. With mental health being talked about a lot more in schools and large work places, there is a slow shift in the understanding of mental illness. So fingers crossed it is not to long before the stigma is reduced.

  • Ah yes interestingly, though I joke about my state of mind (etc) on my blog I never talk about my depression or anxiety there in any real sense. And I think that’s cos there still is a stigma surrounding it all. I think about work colleagues or professional colleagues etc reading it and it’s where I draw the line. (Despite sharing other weird stuff!) #teamlovinlife

    • Having a joke about your state of mind is an indirect way of sharing your situation without the fare of others feeling confronted by it. If I had still been working for my previous employer there is no way that I would share a lot of the stuff that I do, but now shifting into a self employed lifestyle mentoring role, I’m a lot more relaxed about it.

  • Kathy Marris

    I don’t think there are many people that haven’t suffered from stress at some point in their lives. I remember at one particularly stressful period during my life where I was driving my car and all of a sudden I started to cry uncontrollably. I knew then that I needed to do something about my life and reduce the amount of stress I was under. Recognition of being stressed is the first step to overcoming it and also talking to someone about it. I agree that mental health is just as important as physical health. #TeamLovinLife

    • Hopefully those day’s of overload due to stress are a thing of the past and you have things in place to keep you on a more even keel?

  • I don’t need an overhaul (yet – LOL) but I do often employ tips and tricks to keep myself “above the line”. #teamlovinlife

    • Having lots of tips and tricks up your sleeve, means you are less likely to crash over the edge.