How many people, yourself included, know someone who has suffered from mental illness or tried to commit suicide and was/wasn't successful? I know at least 5. They say that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from mental illness in some form, at some point in our lifetime. Personally I think that statistic is much higher if people were being honest. That's why its high time for us to be honest. We're all human. We all know life is not perfect, yet we think we've failed if we get to a point where others might think we can't cope. However what hope would it give someone to be honest about your story with depression, anxiety or stress? Someone who you know could be struggling now but don't have the courage to say it. Imagine the relief of seeing someone you know talk about overcoming their struggles and knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel, when you're in a dark place. We have to make talking about our struggles and failures normal, because they are!
Society's way of looking at failure is inherently the problem. To fit in to society we prefer to hide our failures and present a life where they don't exist, ultimately so we can't be judged. However failure is just as important to us, as success is. Failure, once acknowledged is where we grow, learn and improve - it is nothing to be ashamed of. When we acknowledge that we need help, we understand what we need to improve upon and we start the journey of self improvement. If we keep pretending we don't need to change, our problems only get worse. When we correct our attitude to failure, and stop seeing it as something to hide and be ashamed of, we will begin to correct our attitude to admitting and dealing with topics such as depression, anxiety and stress. It takes great courage in this day and age to admit you have any of these conditions in a world where social media likes us to present living a perfect life. We fall in to the traps of comparison and don't feel like we have permission to bring everyone down with our issues.
So many of us continue to live with those issues not sure of a way out. Our families and friends aren't really sure of a way either so everything continues to be swept under the carpet. I know when I knew my mental health was slipping and I was starting to suffer with post natal depression after a year of relentless sleep deprivation. I asked the doctor for help. I was told there wasn't much that could be done unless I was suicidal. Why should it ever take for someone to slip further down a slippery slope to get help? Its like only trying to rescue a person from falling down a cliff edge when they've already slipped and then sprinting to grab them before they fall all the way down. Prevention here, saves lives. I also knew from seeing my mums mental health decline what the early warning signs were and that I had no intention, whatsoever, of letting my depression progress. My mum did not take responsibility for her mental health because she was scared and for that we got to see what the gates of hell really look like for a soul who is lost. If there was one thing I learnt from seeing my mums mental health decline after she tried to commit suicide, it was that my mental health was my responsibility and the first step was to admit it and do something about it.
In acknowledging my post natal depression but getting no help from my GP, I knew I had to find something to support me pulling myself out the hole I'd found myself in. That's where I found spirituality - the practice of loving oneself and understanding mindset. For me to show up as the best person I can be, I could not continue to pour from an empty cup. I had to put back some of the time and attention I spent on myself so I could be a happier mum again. I had to do things I enjoyed and make time to rest. I had to learn that gratitude really does shape the kind of day you have and to practice self healing and self love. Things, that due to my upbringing, weren't something I'd naturally ever done. I'd grown up with a mum who did not love herself. So it was a new venture for me but by practising spirituality and mindfulness I worked on my belief system around myself and understood where and why I self sabotaging my mental wellness.
My mum always suffered with chronic self doubt and fear which in part led to her severe depression. My mum showed love and affection to me and my sister, but she didn't on to herself and that was an unhealthy mindset issue that her depression medication was never going to fix. I had been told at a young age not to try and stand out too much because I was told people probably won't like you for it and because they'll always be someone better than me. Little did I understand that my mum was just projecting her fears on to me, but that wasn't my emotional baggage to carry. However unconsciously I was carrying that fear for many years after because that one comment stuck to my subconscious like a plastic sucker on wet glass. There it was, lingering in the back of my mind, like a parasite for years, making me work 50 times as hard to prove I was good enough. Until I realised I was not willing to continue to carry my mums emotional baggage anymore because it wasn't mine to carry.
Exploring spirituality, mindfulness and self healing uncovered many mindset revelations for me, given I didn't grow up in background where self love was prevalent. It taught me to unload beliefs and limitations that were never mine to begin with, my self worth had to be based on the opinion I had of myself and that I am enough. That I can forgive myself for where I haven't been because I'm on a journey through life where I'm learning and that's OK. If anyone else disagreed I wasn't worthy then that's their unhealed mindset projecting their fears, anger and justification of unworthiness and blame onto others to try and comfort themselves.
When you heal your mindset you understand the issues of others are not yours to carry and you are what you feed your mind. Feed it gratitude, love and acceptance, not fear and doubt.
Its time to share your mental health stories, you don't know who it might actually help.
Zara Smith Coaching