Today is world mental health day. So here's a quick post about mental health.
We all suffer from mental health problems in my family, its an everyday part of who we are. Some days are better than others, some days it feels miraculous that we even get through at all.
Sometimes we manage to pootle along happily, and everything seems ok, sometimes you can feel it building up and try desperately to keep it at bay, then other times it comes up and floors you before you know what's happening.
Dealing with it can be difficult when there are so many misunderstandings surrounding mental health. The stigma prevents it from being taken as seriously as physical health problems. Strategies and medications can be dismissed as crutches, bizarrely, considering that actual crutches would never be written off in such a disparaging way.
It's assumed that we can positively think our way out of being depressed, or that we should simply stop being anxious (Ha! I wish!).
I am struggling with anxiety right now.
Life is tricky at the moment, home life is hard, with too much to deal with; tricky relationships, university to attend, delayed trains to catch, schools to look round, noise, chaos, noise (again), all which conspire together to make sure my anxiety levels are high. Change, sensory issues and unsurety team up to make anxiety my constant companion.
There are strategies that work, sensory strategies (earplugs, listening to music, silence (oh silence, how I miss you), heavy blankets) and avoidance tactics (avoiding too many social occasions, choosing to spend time with people who do not put pressure on you to be a better person all the time).
Allowing time to work out how mental health affects you and how to deal with it is traditionally seen as navel gazing, and contributing to the problem, leading to (un)helpful suggestions, like "get some fresh air" which may work as part of a range of strategies for some people, but at some points in life, the pressure to get out there adds to team anxiety, and doesn't help. Personally, I find these days are best spent under a blanket with a good book, shutting out the rest of the world, but with two boys around, these days this is easier said than done.
Acknowledging anxiety and working with it, far from being navel gazing, actually works better in terms of management. I have propranolol for the very bad days, when very careful planning and sensory strategies aren't working.
The World Health Organisation currently puts mental health as affecting one in four of us, 450 million of us worldwide (roughly 7 times the population of the U.K. alone - my maths is terrible though, so please don't quote me on this!). It's clear that whatever we are going through, we are not alone, there are others sharing our experiences.
We owe it to ourselves to talk openly about how mental health affects us, and how we manage day to day, and by doing this hopefully we can erase the stigma of mental health problems, and, for that matter, of neurodisabilities like autism and ADHD.
As long as no-one talks there will still be a stigma surrounding mental health. As long as the loudest voice is inaccurate, misleading or lacking in understanding, there will be a stigma.
So there you go, nice and short.
Earplugs in now, ready to run the gauntlet of school pick up!
Have a wonderful day :)