We all have Mental Health…
Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.
We all have our own unique coping mechanisms.
How are you doing with your Mental Health?
For me, I think I am a very resilient person. But never have I encountered such a time in my life when little things really start to annoy me. Something as simple as dropping cereal on the floor when making breakfast had the potential to tip me over the edge. Not a good place.
One of the coping mechanisms that I have developed has been to plan things, like trips away. These future events give me things to look forward to.
Sadly, lockdowns have eroded one of my best coping mechanisms. So I look to some of my others. Seeing friends. Bam that’s gone too (apart from zooms). Freedom to just go for a drive to the beach. Bam, that’s out of the window. All I have left now is my kids and my power of visualisation (I can tell you about this one later).
During the last fifteen years, I have noticed the following. Every year I get “down moments”. In some years they come every 6 weeks. In some years it’s every 3 months or 6 months. They happen. I cannot do anything about them apart from batten down the hatches and ride them out. I don’t acknowledge them as depression, I acknowledge them as “down moments”.
My usual coping mechanisms keep me going until one of these “down moments” strikes. Over the years I have learned to live with them. I just let them wash over me and consume me, safe in the knowledge that in a day or a few days they will be gone. I try not to let others see them (especially my kids), but equally, I am not jumping for joy to attend gatherings during these times.
This whole pandemic has muddled me up. I was just getting used to and accepting these “down moments” then COVID arrives. During the pandemic, I had gone from these moments every 3 or 6 months to every other day. Not great. It was only my week of reflection at the beach in Rhosneigr during half term when I have truly realised what has been happening to me.
Being able to take time at the beach with my kids was like “chicken soup for my soul”. And during that time was the first time in a while when I have not experienced any “down moments” or the “good day/bad day” routine that had become so familiar over the last year or so.
I am especially happy that my Mental Health is moving back to a place where I can deal with the quarterly “down moments” I have come to accept over the last decade and a half. Because in this zone I can do all of the wonderful things that I have enjoyed in my life, including helping others.
During the last year, I have not felt equipped to help others, when I was struggling with my own Mental Health.
Many years ago, I came out as a gay man. It was a very difficult time for me to deal with. I joined a “coming out” group in Manchester called Icebreakers. Every week I would attend and meet other newly out gay men. This helped me enormously, so when I was comfortable with my sexuality, I volunteered at Icebreakers and every Wednesday night (for over ten years) I would support other men coming to terms with their sexuality. In helping others, we heal ourselves.
I am not sure exactly how I have found the inner strength to overcome the last fifteen months, but I am ready to help others again, as my own Mental Health is in the right place.
Earlier this year, at Climate Change Professionals, we acknowledged that so many people were affected in ways which they couldn’t explain, like isolation, loss of friends and relatives to the virus or simply their freedoms removed. We hosted a webinar on Mental Health & Well-being. If you feel you could benefit from improving your own Mental Health, even just to pick up a few pointers then please check out the webinar.
The session was delivered by Dr. Daniel Olaiya and Dr. Raphael Olaiya. Both Dan, Raph, my co-directors, and I thought if our webinar helped just one person struggling with their Mental Health, it was a worthwhile exercise.
Now to that power of visualisation… I will save that for next time!
Take care of yourselves.