For World Mental Health Day | A perfectionists guide to letting go
Today is World Mental Health Day.
Mental Health issues need to be talked about more honestly and openly, but it's hard often for people to feel able to talk about them for fear of being judged. That's not to say that people will openly judge those with mental illness but more often people will subconsciously alter their perceptions of them. I believe that the majority of people are generally understanding and kind and do their best to help when friends or family are suffering with mental health problems but often there is a mixture of shame or embarrassment on the part of the person suffering and those around them may find avoidance the easiest route for coping.
Why am I blogging about this...
Early this summer I had a breakdown. I haven't spoken about this to many people, it came on very quickly, seemingly from nowhere but now that I look back I see what was maybe contributing to it. For a couple of months I didn't actually recognise myself. My concentration was completely gone, my vision was blurry, it took me days to edit sets of images that would have previously taken an hour. I forgot things, not just things like what I went upstairs for but where I was, where I was going, I would forget that I'd done things and go to do them again, announce I was going to work when I'd only got home an hour ago. I have epilepsy and I started to have absences again, petit mal seizures, because of the stress. My emotions where all over the place. I couldn't face going to places that I loved going to previously. I had huge amounts of anxiety and I basically wanted to give up on pretty much everything.
I wanted to write about this because I think it can be particuarly hard for people who are self employed, it's hard enough having to work when you are physically ill, there's no support, no sick pay, no one to fill in for you when you feel like shit. So you pull yourself up and get on with it, pockets stuffed with tissues and a bag full of pills and potions. When you have mental health problems, you feel you can't talk about it for fear that people will think you can no longer do your job, that you are no longer capable. It's hard in this industry, people expect you to be strong, to be confident, to have all the answers, to be on top of everything, to be an awesome business person and to share all the beautiful stuff that you create. When you can't even face going to the post office it's tricky to keep up that projection.
It's alright to feel low, it's alright to not have a reason. I was so annoyed with myself this summer because I thought I had no justification. My business is going well, I have a really good life, a lovely husband, a beautiful house and some really great friends. No one died, nothing terrible happened to me, but I still developed mental health problems. Anyone can, anyone. Just like anyone can fall over and break their arm.
I wanted to write about this because I'm feeling much better now, and I wanted to share what has helped me. I took a little time off from any work that I didn't NEED to do. (The hardest part was admitting that there were a lot of things that I didn't need to do) Most of the pressure on me was placed there by myself. I let go a little. I saw a doctor. I spent time outside with friends. I traveled with my husband and I cleared out my home of all the clutter I'd been holding on to. I spoke to people, I asked for help. Time spent looking after yourself is not time wasted. My business wasn't damaged by taking time off, I didn't fall out of the loop like I thought I would, I didn't forget how to ride the proverbial bicycle just because I put it in the garage for a few months...
If this resonates with you, talk to someone, take time, take whatever you need to feel better. You'll come out of it stronger, promise
You are brave and bold, this is a beautiful piece of writing and so true. You will have made so many people out there from different walks of life feel, just normal! Well done Shelley, you are strong! :) x
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