How are YOU? For real…
When you hear the words ‘mental health’ what do you think of? As a mental health nurse I have spent my entire career focused on people’s mental health yet I still ponder this question.
I have struggled my entire life with anxiety. I can remember as a young child being so fearful of social situations that my palms would sweat in any new situation. I was a perfectionist and it would take me so much more time to complete schoolwork (this was before the days of technology and computers) as I would have to re-start my work over and over if it did not look ‘right’ in my eyes. I’ve suffered from insomnia for years as I lay awake rethinking and ruminating about all sorts of worries. But I think the most profound anxiety and the turning point in how I came to view mental health happened after I had my second child when I began experiencing panic attacks out of the blue. I still have panic attacks and my anxiety is still there. I’ve come to accept that fact that I have anxiety and that I always will.
So what can you do? Here are a few things that have worked for me:
Talk to someone. Tell your story. People will listen and most likely, when you do, someone else will relate and tell you their story.
Mindfulness. For me this is creating my woven art. I also do yoga. I need something in my life that takes my full attention away from the everyday stress to reset and find balance. This could be anything you enjoy from gardening, writing in a journal or taking a quiet bath.
Let go and accept reality. For me this is the hardest. To let go of the ‘to-do’ list that plagues me every day. What is the worst that can happen if the pile of laundry waits another day? There will always be more laundry to be done so I tell myself ‘it’s not a big deal’. I’ll be honest, it’s hard, but prioritizing and tackling one thing every day helps me to accept that there will always be things that need to get done and that I can’t do it all.
Finally, ask for and accept help. Being a parent is so much harder and more work than it appears from the outside. I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is we try to hold it all together, to appear like we have it all under control. We all have bad days, we all feel tired, stressed and not our best. So accept and ask for help, we all need it sometimes.
So what’s your story? Let’s start this conversation. Let’s start supporting each other.
If you or someone you know is experiencing significant mental health distress or is having thoughts of suicide please don’t wait and call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.