As another mental Health Awareness Week comes to a close, here in the UK, I wonder what it all actually means.
The term "Mental Health", has always left a bad taste in my mouth. It's a clinical, somewhat unattractive term and often refers to the negative feelings and emotions that we can feel and experience. Maybe that's why I don't like it, it's become a term with over-riding negative connotations for me.
Having these feeling's doesn't mean we are mentally unsound or unhealthy. Feelings of depression, anxiety and stress seem to part of how we live, certainly in the West. We have become so used to living this way, we take it as an unchangeable part of our existence. That was my experience, at least!
Lets have an example; take me phone for instance. That wonderful little device that lets me keep in touch with friends, via, Facebook, Instagram and whatever other platform looks good, it plays any song I want it to, I can adjust my website and write blogs, in fact, there is almost nothing I can't do with this little device! I'm always connected. Its great........until I lose it. My little world, is now not there. I look in the kids bedrooms, I try ringing it, I want to ring my husband to see if hes taken it by accident (can't do that as I HAVE NO PHONE), panic sets in, I become irritated, lose focus on everything else, wondering what I am missing. My connection to the outside world is temporarily unavailable!!!!
I find the phone and all calm is reinstated.....
Its a silly example, but without actually going through the process, I don't see the impact this little device, which I have chosen to use, is having on my life. But the meaning behind it is actually worth exploring.
Our connection to the outside world is vital. As humans, we thrive within communities, we are social creatures that work better without isolation. But have we taken it too far?
Mental Health Awareness has another meaning to me. Are we actually aware of what is going on in us? Are we aware that to maintain healthy minds, we must first be able to understand how we tick. And we simply cant do this if we are constantly running round being anxious on external things, like, "where on earth is MY PHONE????"
I guess what I am trying to say is that being "Aware" is one of the kindest things we can allow ourselves to be. For it is without awareness, that feelings and emotions build up.....and up......and up and before we know it, these emotions have taken hold and start to take over.
As I mentioned earlier, having negative feelings doesn't necessarily mean we have mental health issues. We could be over-worked, tired, over-critical or simply sad. We are human and we are allowed to feel. We live in a world that is fast paced and sometimes unforgiving and we have developed a way of living that is efficient, logical and structured. It works for most of us, until something goes wrong, like losing our phone!! And we are rarely taught how to manage with these feelings, just how to keep up; have a drink, take a pill or just forget about it and keep going, push through.
Or we could stop, or maybe just pause (if the thought of stopping is too much).
Just become aware of what is going on, the impact it is having on YOU. Because without this awareness of ourselves, we are blind.
If we really want to take something from the term Mental Health Awareness, maybe it is simply starting to understand how we feel right now, without fear there is something wrong, without personal judgement, just create the awareness. And only when we develop this awareness, can understand ourselves a little better and begin to allow ourselves the time to change.....