Mental Health, mental well-being, self care. These are all words I have heard a lot over the last few weeks. Over the last 16 weeks I feel like my emotions have been on such a roller coaster. One minute I’m happy as Larry, the next I am frustrated with my ground hog day life, followed by sullenness and a few tears. Last week the Evening Standard wrote that ‘two out of three (65 per cent) adults aged 25 and over who were previously well will develop mental health problems as a “direct consequence of the pandemic and all that follows”. I, myself am not in such a difficult position as others who have been furloughed, made redundancy or locked down alone with very little interaction with others but my life has not been without challenges.
When the opportunity arose for the boys to return to nursery and school, after much deliberation I made the choice for them to return. The daily struggle of home schooling a 6 year old, entertaining a 3 year, maintaining a home, finishing my studies, managing a team of 10 and trying to support them was really taking its toll. Before this my life was scheduled, in various compartments but now all boundaries were blurred. I felt myself becoming short with my boys without much reason and then feeling guilty. I started to develop anxiety with having to manage basic conflicts at work that I used to take in my stride and I no longer spoke words of affirmation to myself but questioned why I was fraught. This was not daily but was starting to become more regular, , more frequent ups and downs – I felt like I was not myself…… but I was blessed to be able to acknowledge these feelings and talk it out with friends, speak to a counsellor via my employee assistance programme, meditate and seek spiritual guidance. All of which contributed to me being able to balance myself out.
I feel a lot more grounded now but also as though I have been through (probably still going through) a period of growth. When you feel so unsettled it makes you feel very vulnerable, even writing this blog post and expressing that I was not OK for a period makes me feel exposed. But I now know it is OK to not be OK. That we have to take care of our mental health as we would our physical bodies, the two are intertwined and can help each other. Two weeks ago I returned to my personal training sessions which I believe to also help my mental health. Yes, I was trying to run regularly during lockdown but with no accountability or anyone to push me outside my comfort zone I tend to go easy on myself. As black person it is even more important to guard my mental health as there are a number of inequalities towards black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people within the Mental Health sector.
I needed my boys to go back to school, so that my mental health and well-being had the strength to fight. So I could reclaim some of my day and not have as many competing priorities that were draining on me. So that I redevelop a relationship with my boys not based on my mood rather than their actions and so I could rediscover me! Self-care is not selfish, but is about ensuring that I can show up and be the best version of me, whatever that may be.
Do you think your mental health is important? Have you put any measures in place to protect your mental health?
If so, please comment below.
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