*This post was supposed to be for depression awareness week last week, but I didn’t manage to finish it until today: due to busy-ness last week, then feeling overwhelmed and unable to do much this week. Ironically I was feeling quite alone, which is why I felt it even more important to write this for you, but also for myself. You’re not alone, I promise.
Recently I’ve seen a lot of posts shared on social media along the lines of ‘Am I the only one who gets my phone out to see the time, then puts it away and doesn’t know the time still?’ or ‘Does anyone else turn the TV volume to a multiple of 10 otherwise it bugs them?’ and so on. It’s the little quirky things that we often do and think make us ‘weird’ but don’t realise SO many other people do too. If you look on Tumblr you’ll find loads of posts like this, with people admitting to things which actually turn out to be pretty common. I love it when they make me go ‘oh wow I didn’t realise other people did that too, I thought I was just odd!’ That moment of suddenly feeling accepted, part of a group of people who understand you on some level, is pretty great. It brings a sense of relief, and of belonging. So what if we applied that to mental well-being and self care?
When it comes to mental health and feeling bad, we often forget that we’re not alone.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt overwhelmed, anxious, upset at something stupid, or just like the world is too big and I am too small. When those feelings occur, I tend to go into a spiral of feeling rubbish for feeling rubbish, then thinking ‘everyone else seems to manage fine so why can’t I!?’ which makes me feel even worse… The thing is I’m not the only one going through something, and at any given moment somewhere in the world someone else is probably feeling very similar to me. I guess the trick is to try reaching out to find those people who can empathise with what you’re going through. It’s not easy to admit that you’re struggling, and putting yourself out there is an incredibly vulnerable thing to do. But it’s so important not to go through your struggles alone.
Try talking to a friend, or somebody you know who has also had experience with mental health issues.
When you find that that one friend you can call or message and say ‘the world is too much for me, I’m in my pj’s and it’s 3pm’ and they totally get you and do their best to cheer you up, you suddenly feel a lot less alone. They know when you don’t want ‘cheering up’ and all you need is somebody to listen, but also when you could do with some advice or support. It’s easy to cut yourself off from everyone when you’re feeling bad, but please please don’t. It’s not a weakness to admit you’re struggling, and it’s not selfish to put yourself first and look after yourself. I promise you, you will feel a tiny bit better just for having shared and been accepted by somebody else.
This morning I took my own advice, and spoke to a friend who I was long overdue a catch-up with.
Obviously I won’t go into details but she can relate to my struggles a lot. We’ve had very different journeys, but feel the same way a lot of the time with overwhelm, general life fear, and sometimes not having a clue what we’re doing or where we’re going. She totally got me, and helped me to feel clearer and less overwhelmed just by talking things out. I’m so incredibly grateful to have her in my life; I know whenever she needs me I can relate to her thoughts and feelings and try my best to support her, and equally when I need someone to talk to or just chill out with, she’s always there. We live hundreds of miles apart since I moved, and that’s definitely made it harder to catch up, but also means I value time talking with her even more. She is just one of a few great friends who I am lucky enough to have in my life, and talking to her made me realise that I’ve been forgetting that a bit recently.
Being up here away from most of my friends except J, I often make myself feel lonely and rubbish without realising.
Yes it’s more difficult to physically hang out with people, but that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared from my life. I know I just need to reach out and make the effort to connect more. So today I’m making a goal for May: I will talk to at least one friend every day, in a way more meaningful than just ‘hey how’s you?’ I will schedule in a few phone calls every week too, so that I know I’ll be able to catch up properly with some of my best people. As much as I’ve been cutting myself off, I’ve also not been a good friend to them as I’ve been distant and not supportive of their needs either. So if you’re reading this, I’m sorry – and please bug me about arranging a Skype or call this month!
You are not alone in your struggles, and you can gain a lot from reaching out to other people who understand. This coming week make plans to catch up with a friend, be it over the phone, on the internet, or face to face.
Remember that your book begins when you choose to pick up the pen – the rest is still unwritten.
Til next time,