An Open Letter To My Mental Health

I’m back! What says “welcome back” more than a post about mental health?

In case you haven’t realised, I’ve not really been very frequent on this blog for a while. There are multiple reasons for this: I’ve not really felt like writing, I’ve felt like I’ve had nothing worth writing, and I’ve been going through some stuff that has made this process a bit difficult.

At the beginning of 2017, I wrote a lighthearted piece on my blog about New Year’s Resolutions. In the piece, I spoke about my inability to keep at any resolutions but decided to give it a proper go this year. Two of the goals I mentioned were to look after this blog (this one definitely didn’t happen, soz) and to focus on my mind, body, and soul – as pretentious as that may sound.

Seven months later, and I’m happy to report that this has actually started to become an active goal in my lifestyle. I’ve comfortably managed to fit regular exercise into my schedule, practice meditation, watch what I eat, take a more positive approach to things, and tackle the big monster in the room: My mental health.

Without going into too much detail, I’ve always had a rocky relationship with my mind but over the space of the last year, the relationship really became quite disastrous. Delayed responses to certain things in the past, events which happened, and just a state of confusion all contributed to that. Part of how I’ve dealt with this is to be more open and honest. Not only with myself, but those around me.

Mental health is a bit of an ‘elephant in the room’, people don’t like to talk about it and that’s what makes it become such a taboo subject. Over the last few months, I’ve aimed to throw down this taboo and turn my mental health into something which is a part of me, and something I’m wearing on my sleeve.

Before you go applauding me for the progress, I need to be honest with you. I wrote about the positive effects of being open and accepting about mental health in an article for Elite Daily back in 2015. Despite what actionable change I pointed out that needed to happen, I didn’t make any of it myself.

I was embarrassed that I was struggling to cope and did everything I possibly could to avoid it being obvious to anyone else. That infamous situation where someone would ask “how are you?” would always be responded by me with an “I’m great thanks!”. The truth is I wasn’t great, I needed some help and I needed the support.

I don’t want to hang around in the past too much, and fill it with scenarios of “what if” or “why not sooner”. I think it’s important to accept that my mental health affected me far too much at times for me to see things clearly, but that now I’m starting to get a bit more level-headed about things.

What’s helped me? As much as it isn’t that useful to anyone reading this looking for the all-important answer, the reality is that a light-bulb moment just hit me. I realised I was fed up with the state of which things were playing out for me, how alone I felt, and how I needed to work out what the hell was going on and how I could change it.

I’ve found a number of great resources I want to highlight as useful. They may work for you, they may not.

The Headspace app has been brilliant at giving me a much-needed sense of clarity and to be able to see things outside of the situation a bit more. All you need is 10 minutes a day.

A few useful books. Both ‘Sane New World’ and ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’ by Ruby Wax – she has a way with words which makes the books easy to follow, there’s some great insights and techniques alongside some interesting scientific know-how about the brain. ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Steve Peters is another great book, full of useful ways to manage a hectic brain.

What I’m trying to get to in this post is that I’m openly acknowledging I struggle with mental health. I’m also admitting that I wasn’t able to take a sip of some of the advice at the time I had written about and asked others to follow.

Lastly, I’m admitting that I want to get better and I will get better. I’m trying to make positive changes to my life which make me feel better and think differently about how things affect me.

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