I had a chat to my boss the other in which I was extremely up front and honest about my current mental health status and how I well and truly have been neglecting myself and my own self care for a while now. I explained that my ever increasing and more frequent sick days have been a combination of a few things but mainly represent a debilitating sensation of burn out. During this time there has been more and more days where I simply cannot bring myself to get out of bed in the mornings. Even though I was prepared to say all of these things so openly I was still feeling an extreme sense of guilt at even having admitted one single element of this to myself. That no, I am not okay right now, but that it is perfectly reasonable for this to be the case.
There is so much taboo that occurs around mental health. I work in the disability sector and even though this is the case I find myself lying to my colleagues when questioned with why I have been away the previous day. I always feel like I open my mouth intending to be honest, because I truly believe that this is how to change the discourse around stigma, and yet the words that come tumbling out of my mouth never reflect this. In one particular instance I found myself stating ‘I’m just so exhausted… maybe I’m anaemic’? The recoil and horror of this exchange was felt immediately after I had closed my mouth and I found myself thinking why on earth did I just say that?
I’ve had a few conversations with close friends recently around the concept of why we neglect our mental health so much. A few of us, and myself included have just started seeing psychologists. Something that each and every one of us have stated that we have been meaning to do for years now. So what stopped us from taking this action in the past? The saddest thing to own up to about this is that we weren’t prepared to face the stigma that we place on ourselves for admitting that yes we do in fact need help and then going out and sourcing it. This form of self-denial in most instances is more devastating and damaging than the judgment that we perceive we would receive from the outside world. That self-criticism for perceivably not living up to standards of invented perfection are such a sad reflection of the way we view ourselves on a daily basis.
In identifying this I remember saying to my boss that while it may seem that things are somewhat off course right now, in this moment I am actually much healthier than I have been in the past. I am no longer doubting that I require assistance on some things to do with my own psyche. And even further than this, I am now at the stage where I have accepted this and taken the step to seek help and follow it through. It is because I want to better myself and create a future that is more positive and abundant that I am taking this course of action.
I understand that the wheels have to fall off and utter destruction occur before I can attempt to rebuild. I know that while this may be painful it is a necessary part of my growth and I will endeavour upon the next chapter of my life as a more balanced and healthy person than I was before. More importantly, I say this in solidarity for all of those people who have shared similar circumstances with me of late. It is okay to admit that things are difficult right now. It is okay to confess that we are struggling and that our focus right now is merely on putting one foot in front of the other and surviving. Because for right now we are simply doing the best that we can. Yes this may not be a time when we are at our best but this, just like all other things will pass and when it does we will be stronger, more resilient people who are honest with ourselves and those around us.