Mental Health is not an issue: it's a part of life and one that we are each surrounded by everyday. What is an issue, is how we deal with it. From the outrageously political to the all too personal, join the discussion here at The Mental Life.
I wish to enjoy an internet-free week surrounding Christmas, so this is the last written post I will produce before the big day. Having returned to the blogs for almost a full month, I have been driven to think about many things that, for a long time, I simply haven't had time to contemplate in any great detail. It has always been the case that people around me have come to stark realisations that were astoundingly obvious to me and, as such, it is quite rare that a thought surprises me but, this month, I have been continually surprised by a few things. For one, the number of people still reading and responding to these blogs is nothing short of wonderful. The messages I get from people feeling the same ways as described in these pages, finally finding something they can relate to is as beautiful as it is saddening and serves as perfect motivation for me to keep going, saying whatever I feel inclined to say. It's not just the mental health of others that I have come to consider so closely this month: I find myself considering just how unhappy I was this time last year, at a time where I probably didn't realise quite how bad things were. With a change of circumstances, a sharp kick up my own backside and rather a lot of help from some very lovely friends, I can now bring myself to go out and enjoy myself, knowing full well that I'm not half the useless lump I used to feel. Life is getting better and, with those same people continuing to help, I think that's the way it will stay. Further to this, I have been reminded of just how much help we all need. Our society is bustling with talk of money and politics which both serve to swallow-up whatever conversation we have left to deal with the issues that really matter. So many people are very, very not okay and, no matter how much we throw around token awareness conversations, we are just not yet doing enough to make the changes we need. And the word 'yet' brings me to my final point: more than anything, I am reminding myself, more and more each day, of just how much things can change. Someone has not recovered: yet. We haven't cracked mental health care: yet. We're not guaranteed happiness: yet. Life is a continually evolving process of which we are all lucky to be a part and there is always a tomorrow with which to make it better. So let's make it better, this Christmas and every day after it.
Thank you to those of you who took time out to spend with me this December. The countdown to Christmas is very nearly at it's end and I am so, very glad to have had you there to share it with me.
Just Because Do something for no reason other than just because you like it: re-read your favorite book, watch a nostalgic movie or even get your nails done. When things have no function beyond your enjoyment, they are real acts of self-care.
Tidy mind Tidy your mind, inside and out. Re-organise your wardrobe, bookshelf or kitchen cupboards. Give your house a spring clean. And, when everything physical in your life is in its proper place, take time to clear out your mind too. Make lists of anything and everything going on in your head, work out what little things are bothering you and find a way to deal with them. Tidy up the niggles and watch your mood lift ten-fold.
Treat your health Healthy body, healthy mind! Drinking plenty of water, taking a walk and making 3 decent meals a day will never do your body or mind any harm. In fact, the healthier you feel, the more likely your brain is to work properly. More importantly, deciding to take care of your own health proves to yourself that at least part of your welfare matters, and reminding yourself of that every once in a while does anyone the world of good.
Say no And, sometimes, yes! We sprint through life without giving a shred of thought to what we want. People ask us to do things and we just say yes! They ask us if we want something and we just say no! British people have a particular talent for denying themselves their every want in an attempt to be polite, courteous and just plain quiet. Where does this really get us? You have a right to be happy and just as great a right to make choices for yourself so go ahead and do it!
Have a little funBut know that it's okay to cry! Very often, the things that we find to be most enjoyable seem, to others, trivial and a little strange. That does not mean, however, that we should not do them. I have a friend who takes the greatest pleasure in melting wax to her fingertips and peeling it off again. I know others who just love a trip to the local swings or, even, vegging out with a pack of jaffa cakes. Whatever it is, take some time out to make yourself giggle like the happy 3, 5 or 50 year-old you once were.
Take care of yourself this Christmas and let others around you do the exact same too.
Our final Make a Change Monday before Christmas was yesterday but, before I disappear for Christmas, I would like to introduce one more accessible tool for your use. Sane, a UK mental-health charity, provides a wide range of tools and resources to help support you through this Christmas and it is that range that, I think, makes them worth talking about.
Sane offers five mains lines of support to people experiencing or caring for someone with mental health problems: an emergency phone line and an alternative text line can be used to access immediate help, support and advice when unsure how to respond to a mental illness or emergency, whilst the 24-hour online forum and Black Dog Tribe allow people to share experiences of a wide berth of problems and, most importantly, offer tried-and-tested solutions. Sane can also be contacted via letter, Facebook or Twitter. Further to this, the charity conducts research into various forms of mental illness, including self-harm and suicide, and their website offers a range of resources to present information about the illnesses, what can cause them and where support can be found for dealing with them. Finally, the charity has links to a number of blogs wherein people share personal experiences of dealing with their own mental health, or the mental health of others and allow readers to share their journeys through recovery. The range of resources available makes Sane a useful starting point for anyone seeking support at any time of year - and what better time than Christmas?