In the days leading to Mental health day I am honored to welcome intimate fragments of stories on healing and becoming shared by passionate women in an attempt to inspire, motivate, and when possible provide tools for self-care. Opening the discussion with adressing the importance of normaliznig public perception of the topic.
The other day my 10-year-old daughter got a school assignment to research her birth date for curiosities, and while doing so she also ran the date of the rest of the family in Wikipedia. Needless to say, we had some laughs. But one date had a call to action. As I learned that the 10th of October, which is incidentally my husband’s birthday, is also a Mental health day, I decided to make an effort in addressing it deservingly.
One might say that the topic is very much in focus, for there has never been more discussion on it, nor have we ever bought more books aspiring to understand how to maintain it and how it connects with our overall well-being. Yet, there were never more of us suffering from depression, anxiety, panic disorder, burnout … more people in therapy, nor more of those self-medicating to numb the bitter truth of self-neglect. Or indulging in any other form of numbing and often self-sabotaging escape route for that matter. And those who still battle in silence, unattended, are likely outnumbering the ones who are well.
So in an attempt to take the idea of understanding the concept and significance of mental health to embodying it in an attempt to fulfill our delightful capacity of joyful living, I thought I˙d contribute with a series of articles. As you might know, with experience in anxiety, panic disorder, and burnout, I tend to focus on self-care and self-healing to the best of my ability. Sharing about the relevance of both was one of the major reasons that drew me to socials and remains the foundation of my message here.
For I took it upon myself to be the voice of possibility, which implies being the voice of here and now, no matter how unpleasant that might sound. I feel as though I told my from burnout to bloom story so many times that it no longer sounds personal. So not be redundant I invite you to read it here if you are curious, while I˙´ll take this opportunity to focus on the stigma.
Coming to adult age in a home where a pack of diazepam pills could easily be found on the fridge, I was brought up with an awareness of the fragility of mental health and the severity of the consequences it can cast on the household when unaddressed. With an alcoholic father suffering from war-induced PTSD, a strained out mother battling his illness, while raising four kids, and a sibling with what we now know was a panic disorder but was then wrongly diagnosed and miss treated to a point of greater damage than good, I considered myself lucky to have gotten away with asthma.
But that is not how others saw me. Though supportive my environment was often embarrassed in my name, as I refused to be, choosing not to hide any of it.
For in my eyes it wasn`t something me or my family have chosen to live, yet we did our best to overcome it together. If anything, I was proud of us for persevering. There is dignity in doing the best you can. And this was long before social networks, at the very beginning of the internet, before home PCs. There was no awareness, no online resources, no like-minded community. Seemingly no gradation to mental health; just sane and insane.
I took my first anxiolytic derived from all-natural ingredients at the age of 25 while working as a producer filming entertainment TV shows, without a day of rest in months. I remember the look on the face of a makeup artist sitting opposite me when I shared the relief. It was an uncomfortable mix of disbelief, pity, and loathing, masked with a polite nod. So that’s how it feels like when it`s about you – I remember thinking, feeling the bitter sting of the social stigma under my skin.
I left that job soon afterwards and was lucky enough not to have felt the need for anxiety relief until 15 years later. And though much has changed in our society since, the issues of mental illness remains on the border of shameful experiences. If you have a mental health problem you are often seen as weak, unable, and unreliable. If you take medication for it, you might be accused of taking the easy way out. You might also be accused of exaggerating, for others are having it rough too but they are holding it together. Your capacity to rightfully judge and perform might forever remain clouded both within your family and in your work environment, should you choose to be open about it. And this is why many don’t.
I know people who hide their medications from their spouses afraid that he/or they might dismiss them as crazy, or worse. I know people who are inventing stories for their co-workers to take a sick leave and people who never take a sick leave, though they are falling apart. I am blessed with a perspective that allows me to perceive a mental illness as an illness. For that is all it is, a form of dysfunction in our physical body. Always traceable to strayed atoms and always tangible in definition, though weigh in perception.
So if you are not well; there might be a medical explanation for how you feel, go seek it. I there is a therapy available from whatever source you find close to your heart, explore it. Just as you would tend to a sore knee. Don’t question the social implications of your recovery any more than you would if you are working through pneumonia. Strength is in taking care of yourself, not performing for the evaluation of others. And never feel compelled to prove anything to anyone, you are the only one who needs to understand.
So thinking about how to best mark the event, I wanted to draw from my own experience about possible ways to improve one`s mental health, but before I finished my thought, some inspiring women who I know share this perspective came to mind, and an idea of collaboration came to life. So to mark Mental health day, I am honoured that Salty nest blog will welcome intimate fragments of stories on healing and becoming shared in an attempt to inspire, motivate, and provide you tools for owning your well-being with confidence.
On benefits of journaling read from Nicole ( @journaljunky), about nature therapy from Ina ( @ina_nature), and on the topic of mindfulness learn more from Ivana (@ivanaburic.phd). Finding joy is at the core of Katharina`s (@heitermagazine) story, and healing found in sharing openly in Maya`s (@bigmammamm). Gaelle (@inkysquare) writes on ways creativity can help us reconnect with ourselves, while those prone to growing life relate to Eva`s (@ fleurrustique) beautiful story about self-care found in gardening. About physical self-care in the service of mental health is what Ivana (@cupoftea.living) shares in her reflection, and self-healing is the topic Indira (@indira.juratek) addresses in her story.
Be well my lovelies, take care and stay tuned, good stories are coming your way.