Someone asked me tonight how I was. I said I’m doing OK. I also said, I’m not OK. I could pick aspects of my life to tell a positive story. I could just as easily pick some bits to tell a story of defeat, sadness and stress.
Like many people I can look better than I am. I coach many others to find ways to transform their lives. I teach and write books. I look OK. And yet I can feel anxious, stressed and low. For me these feelings also impact the way I fail to look after myself. This has resulted in high blood pressure and putting on weight among other things. As a mental health practitioner I know that I am probably not clinically depressed but sometimes I have come pretty close.
When I look at the bits of life that are OK and the bits that are not so OK, I am struck by the difference between my public and private face. I do share my feelings with a small number of trusted friends and a therapist, but on the whole I keep the messy, vulnerable and lost parts of myself out of sight, even out of my sight.
Sadly it is often true that the relationship we nurture the least is the one with our self. So as we go through mental health week, I’m thinking about how I can look after myself better. This means listening and giving space for how I REALLY feel and not dismissing it as ‘crazy’ or unimportant. I think a key part of sustaining mental health is self-compassion, self-care and simply being kind to ourselves.
So this week, of all weeks, what is one thing you could do for yourself that would be really kind and pays attention to the you that gets shut down, drowned out or ignored?