There is something to be said for finding your happy place particularly in times of need. Go to your happy place… It sounds like something out of an Adam Sandler film perhaps it was Happy Gilmore as he attempted to putt for the millionth time in order to get enough money to get his grandmother’s house back from the debt collectors but whatever it was he found a place in which he could be happy and himself. So what’s your happy place? Given it’s Christmas and it’s often a hard time of year for so many who are battling their own demons, we thought it appropriate we look at anxiety and depression and how to cope with them throughout the silly season.
Once again we’ve handed the reins over to the the creator of this here fine piece of media to discuss Anxiety and Depression through the holiday period. Knowing it’s a time of year when things start to become a little tiring, a little stressful and somewhat difficult to cope. We handed over the writing of this weeks blog to the Grumpy old man of the office after all it was the least we could do considering we didn’t get him a christmas gift. He has all sorts of coping mechanism for dealing with his anxiety and depression but his best and favourite outlet or his ‘Happy Place’ if you will is sitting right in front of a keyboard listening to the click, clack of keys as he taps out some writing from the original mind of its own. So without further adieu we hand over the keys to the kingdom to the man, the myth, the legend? (Insert questioning face emoji)…
It’s good to the see the team still have a sense of humour after I’ve banished them all to the naughty corner and told them coal is on the cards this christmas unless they get their acts together. It’s been a long year here at A Mind of Its Own, a long but enjoyable year. We’ve covered so many topics and continue to advocate that its ok to talk and more importantly it is more than ok not to be ok. The challenge comes in knowing it’s not weak to ask for help but takes more strength than most people realise. It’s at this time of year that I genuinely become drained both physically and emotionally. As people, we often don’t realise how much we give to others throughout the year. We support both friends and family in some cases so we don’t have to deal with what is going on in our own backyards and in other cases because it’s just what we’ve always done. We’ve always been that shoulder to lean on, that bag to punch, that friend that is always there when we need them.
We do it all without little regard for ourselves and our own physical and emotional wellbeing. Like most things though in life, we can only take so much before it all comes crashing down like a proverbial house of cards. For me it manifests itself in various ways but one in particular is sheer tiredness. I find myself sleeping more and more and feeling somewhat lethargic throughout the day. I struggle to keep my emotions in check and find myself leaning more and more on my coping mechanisms. The big one for me being my writing and spending my time my happy place. There is something cathartic about putting all my thoughts and feelings down on paper whether it be with a pen or taping them out in the virtual world. To me nothing beats that sound of the click, clack of keys as my thoughts appear on the screen before me.
Overtime I have learnt not to fear what I write and more importantly to share it. Whether that be with close friends and family or strangers through this blog. Having to get past the vulnerability and being scared of what and how people will perceive my writing has helped me to not only share my story but helped in my day to day struggles as I battle my own mind, thoughts and insecurities, as i get them out for the world to see. It took me a long time to be ok with letting people know I suffer from mental health issues, but now that I have I realise i am not alone and there are so many people around the world battling day to day like me. Spreading the message that its ok to talk and it’s ok not to be ok is something that didn’t come easy at first but now it’s second nature and hopefully by putting myself out there I am encouraging other who a struggling to speak up and seek some help or confide in a loved one or friend.
Having multiple projects on the go at once allows me to pick and choose depending on my mood, emotions and feelings which one I work on. It also allows me to plan for the future in terms of my writing. When things get really dire I find myself exercising a lot more and even meditating to keep myself balanced. Whilst the brain is a beautiful thing I find that mine can often be destructive and troublesome given the time to wander and analyse life way too much. The constant question of self and those around me becomes tiring and at some point once that fuse it lit and begins to burn out I know there will be an explosion. How it all comes to a head is anyone’s guess. It can be any emotion from anger to sadness or a mixture of them all that leaves me feeling ashamed.
Ashamed that whilst I have gotten better over the years, I still can’t master my emotions. Being reflective I know that I only have myself to blame. I’m the one that takes on too much, who tries to be there for everyone. Who carries the world upon my shoulders as though it is my duty to ensure everyone is ok. Without looking after the one person I rely on the most. ME. It’s a flaw that I own, that I know I can work on overtime. During this holiday period I urge everyone to make sure they take some time out to look after themselves. Self Care is so important and is often overlooked. I can honestly put my hand up and say that my own well being is always the least of my concerns. Finding excuses is not hard, there is always some doing it tougher than I am or going through something that requires immediate attention. Like I said finding an excuse to not have to deal with myself is always easy. Its doing the hard things we often shy away from.
It’s usually this time of year that things will bubble to the surface, those questions that have been haunting me all year, the self loathing, the feelings of being stuck in a dead-end job and the unreasonable insecurities that tend to rear their ugly heads as I have way too much time on my hands to think and over analyse. In years gone by I have busied myself with as much as possible, cramming my days full of things to do as a way of distracting myself from the thoughts brewing inside my head. Hence why for me in particular the holiday season is a good time for me to do a lot of self care and to get as many of my thoughts and feels down as possible. It’s a time in which I can utilise all the tools and techniques I have learnt over the years while I reset.
Whilst it is important particularly over the holidays to ask if people are ok and to be there for friends and family it is so important that you stop, take some time out for yourself and ask yourself if you are ok?. Do the things you need to recharge. Go get a massage, read a book, go to the beach, write, see a movie, go for walk, be active. Whatever it is that helps you find your happy place, a place where you can be you and have no worries. As Bobby McFerrin sang ‘Don’t worry be happy’. Some people will read this and say you are just bandaging over the problems and you are not getting to the root cause of the issues that are making you anxious or depressed, i am inclined to agree with them but I will also caution that, that is an ongoing journey and not something that is going to be fixed overnight like a pantene advertisement.
So this Christmas give yourself the gift of Self Care, you can still be there for everyone but it is important that you do look after yourself and not just those around you. Do the little things that make you happy and stick to your routines. If you gym every morning make sure you do that, if you meditate than do that, if like me you write, than write till your little heart’s content, whatever it is that makes you feel good do it. There is nothing selfish about looking after number one. After all how are you expected to look after everyone else if you can’t look after yourself. The little coping mechanisms you use to get through the days will be so important this holiday period as you will often find yourself with more time on your hands as businesses shut down for Christmas and New Year and without work as distraction for some of us that gives our minds plenty of time to wander.
One thing I often overlook is leaning on friends and family myself, whether it’s a pride thing and having to admit i need some help and can’t do it all on my own or whether its purely because I prefer to listen. I know this Christmas I will have to lean on those around me at some point. I will need my friends and family even if it’s just for an hour, a day or a week. I am only human and at some point I will fall into an emotional heap. There have been times in the past where my wife has found me on the shower floor in absolute tears because everything has become to much or my hands will make fists and hit a tree only for to realise that was stupid as it swells and requires ice. But without my friends and family to lean on it would be a battle that was constantly draining. The hardest thing again is realising its ok to vulnerable in front of them. You don’t have to be tough all the time and letting down that guard will often save you a lot pain and suffering on your own.
The holiday period is a time to catch up with friends and family but don’t feel obligated to do so. I am forever reminding myself that just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean I have to. There is nothing worse than dragging yourself along to something when the last thing you feel like doing is being around people and having to make small talk. You don’t have to make up excuses, don’t even need to explain why, what you do need to do is what’s best for you. If that means not attending something because you need time to yourself than take. All too often we feel we have to do things because it’s the right thing to do, the socially responsible thing to do. At the end of the day I say what’s best for you is the socially responsible thing to do, holidays are a time for doing what you want, with who you want. It’s nice to be invited places but that doesn’t mean you always have to say yes! It’s ok to say NO thank you.
If you take one thing from this blog today it is to look after yourself over this holiday period. Easier said than done, I know. I know better than most but I also know that without self care and those around me to lean on instead of everyone leaning on me I’d be a shell of emotions come the new year and questioning whether 2019 was just going to be a year of the same circles going round and round once again. Self Care does not mean you have to ignore everyone it just means looking after yourself and doing what you want and need to be the best version of you. You can still be there for friends and family you just need to put yourself first for a change. Look after you and you’ll be able to spare some emotional capacity for those who need and want your help.
For me everyday is R U Ok? Day, I will forever ask it and I will always be there to lend an ear or a shoulder for those in need. I also know that I need to look after myself in order to do that. Finding my happy place wasn’t easy but now that i know what it is i’ll always have an outlet or coping mechanism to help me through the bad days because there will be bad days. These days the good far outweigh the bad but it has taken a lot of work both mentally and physically to get to this point and the educating is far from over. There is still so much work to be done before I can truly say I am OK.
So from the main mind here at A Mind of Its Own, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Remember it’s ok not to be ok and it’s certainly ok talk. You do you as they say and look after number one this festive season. That self care is of utmost importance during the silly season. Friends and family will be there for you, as you are for them. Lean on them if you need to, there is no shame in asking for some help. From the team and I until the next episode which by the way is another milestone edition! As the title say leave the war with me and I’ll continue to fight it… Peace out hombres…