Is mental health awareness week just valentine's day for the mind!
This week is mental health awareness week, I think mental health awareness week is a bit like valentine's day.
To paraphrase the words of Bono in the song "one love" (yeah that's what I do now that I'm a dad, I quote U2 lyrics and I'm not going to apologise for it) "love leaves you baby if you don't care for it"
I believe the same goes for your mental health, it can deteriorate if you don't care for it! I know a lot of blokes (and women) who don't celebrate valentines day because they say "we don't believe in it, we show each other love all year round so why do we need a specific day just for retailers to sell you cards and chocolates" but let's be honest they're probably just being tight and don't want to spend extra money.
Some people have a similar reaction to mental health awareness week and see it as just a hashtag or a cause to get behind on social media, but I think in both cases they're missing the point, they're not specific days where you focus on your partner or your mental health and then neglect it for the rest of the year, they're meant to be a reminder, a reminder that life gets in the way sometimes, of course, you love your partner and of course, you want to be happy, motivated, content, etc. But sometimes we spend so much time trying to hit deadlines at work, dealing with toddler tantrums, arguing over who's turn it is to take the rubbish out that we forget to focus on ourselves or our relationship.
This week I have had a very low mood, I have felt unmotivated and generally unhappy, but I'm also aware that my mood can fluctuate over periods of time, and I have started to see the signs. When I'm going through a good period I'm very creative, full of energy, every song I listen to is amazing and I tell myself I can't believe I forgot that this was such a banger, I laugh a lot and I have a positive attitude where I believe I can achieve anything I put my mind to, these periods can last for weeks or months.
On the flip side when I'm going through a bad patch it's completely the opposite and my mindset becomes hopeless, my OCD/anxiety flares up and my thoughts become self-destructive, but as I mentioned I am getting much better at spotting the signs and it usually begins like this.
I decide to put something on the TV but "there's nothing on" even though I have a choice of thousands of shows on Netflix, Amazon and the TV, so I sit all night flicking through, this isn't just a one-off this will be every night, the same goes for the radio/Spotify, every song that comes on I am bored of and feel like I've heard a million times, this also applies to food, I can't even be bothered to cook because I have no motivation to cook as yet again every meal is "boring" the reality is I'm not bored of these things I'm just not getting any pleasure or satisfaction from anything.
These feelings can get out of hand if I don't get on top of them quickly and seep into the rest of my life, the less satisfaction you get from life, the less motivation you have to get out of bed or work on the podcast, write blogs or go to work, you don't want to speak to friends or exercise and this can be when you end up in a spiral.
Luckily things like mental health awareness week (just like valentines day can remind us to focus on our partner) can remind us to focus on our mental health, this week it reminded me to focus on how my routine and had changed since my mood took a downturn, my sleep pattern had become erratic and I had not been getting a full nights sleep, sleep is one of the most important contributors to keeping my mental health positive!
I had been very stressed with a combination of work deadlines, emails, and a mouse had got into my garage and pooed/eaten everything, so I had to remove him as well as throw away a huge chunk of mine and my daughter's belongings. I ate junk food all week and I also had a chest infection, which meant I stopped doing any exercise.
I don't talk about this to be self-indulgent, my point is that we can have good mental health periods as well as bad ones, for some it can be low mood, for some it can be full-blown depression, for some, it can be anxiety and for some, it can be psychosis, there are tons of issues we can have with our mental health, and none of them makes us unusual but there are also tons of positives we can notice or be thankful for when it comes to our mental health, but the most important thing is that we notice them regardless of whether they're positive or negative and mental health awareness week reminds us to do that! It also gives us tips and advice on what to do if we notice our mental health isn't as good as it can be, so use this week as a little valentines day to yourself, get yourself some chocolates, take yourself out for dinner, and give your mind that little bit of extra attention