From Me to You - My Mental Health Journey
Updated: Nov 26, 2022
As you may already be aware, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As I was thinking about the best way to approach the topic and, how best it might be possible to help people, I decided that sharing my mental health story might be a good way to do it! Those that know me personally, know full-well that I am not very good when it comes to being vulnerable, and know that my personal journey has involved many a emotion, physical and mental rollercoaster so... here goes! (with a few tips along the way!)
I grew up with the mindset that I was invincible and that I was able to do everything! I was really fortunate to be good at a variety of things - I was very academic, very sporty, I sang, played piano, etc etc. So, when I missed a deadline or didn't get an A (which was quite often..) it was the end of the world! It sounds a bit ridiculous thinking back on it now but, that was how I saw the world. In one way, it was a positive thing because I was always motivated to do well but, in another, it was rather negative because I was really insecure and had no capability to cope when things didn't go the way I thought it should.
I have to admit that this occurred for years. I used to see heavy fluctuations in my mood and get very irritated which led to anxiety attacks and the sought. I never associated this with a lack of 'positive mental health' - I just assumed it was normal. Like many, it wasn't until mid-2020 and the start of the pandemic that I really started to address where I was and be honest with myself. I was very fortunate during this time, to continue working from home, volunteering at the Hospital on a COVID-19 immunology project, and growing my music business! But, I was exhausted! I didn't know where to look or what to do...
It wasn't until some very close friends of mine let me talk about how I actually felt, that I realised there was more to it!
Tip #1 - Talk about it
There is absolutely nothing wrong with struggling or not being ok! Your closest people do want to support you. They do want to be there for you and, they definitely do not want to judge you. Be open with them and let them help you. You are not weak for needing help. If you find that one of your closest friends/family are going through a difficult time, take a look at this really helpful article written by the Mental Health Foundation so that you can approach them in a respectful and compassionate manner.
Tip #2 - Understand your feelings
One of the most beneficial things that I did was to learn about and understand my own feelings... if I didn't understand them, how could I expect anyone else to? One of the most important realisations for me was that many of my feelings and the way that I responded was usually a knee-jerk reaction to past experiences that I had fought to forget about.
I began online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle (NHS, 2022).
CBT helped me to break down my negative cycles and things that made me feel bad, and help me to recognise certain feelings and make a positive change. In turn, this made my problems more manageable. I know this won't be for everyone - other helpful ways to understand your feelings may in-part include being more self-aware by keeping a diary or reflecting on your actions... find what works best for you!
Tip #3 - Know your worth!
One of the biggest lessons that i've learnt over the past year is that if I work hard and stay focused, I am worthy. I am allowed to succeed. The music industry can be a scary place, and it is very easy to get caught up in the negative online comments from those who don't really know you... It's very easy to take them to heart and to feel you aren't worthy. I did it! But, guess what?! YOU ARE. Where you are today is exactly where you're supposed to be, and working hard will get you to where you want to go. You can trust me on that one.
What are your tips for positive mental health?