musings on mental health

As a chronic over-analyst, right now my mind is like “what if people think I am publishing this because it’s trendy?”. Trendy, seriously? Honestly, the fact we dismiss something so important that fast to me says we still have so far to go. For the record, if trends interested me, mental health concerns would not be a bandwagon I’d voluntarily sign up for. At the same time, I want to talk about mental health. More so when New Zealand, my birthplace has such damning statistics. I’m still trying to work out how to write about my personal experiences without inflicting a seismic array of nerves and anxiety upon myself. For now, I just want to share some thoughts. Yes it is mental health awareness week here in New Zealand but these are all things I’ve considered over the past year. So here goes. Also, if you do need to seek support or want to help someone in your life who does need it, please see the list of resources at the end of this post.

-Why do we see so much of people’s ‘success’ stories in the aftermath of depression, anxiety etc? Why do we see less of the ‘during’ stage. I am guilty of this too as I can barely write this out for my own private consumption sometimes, let alone on a public forum. I do often ask myself, why does nobody share that side of things? Would it make us all more understanding and less dismissive? Who can say.

-Mental health is not a competition. Please don’t feel that way. Your anxiety and depression is no less valid than my anxiety and depression. Imagine if, for example, we competed over who has the worst eyesight or allergies. It sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. Please don’t think that competing over whose mind is the most troubled is the answer. It’s such a vicious cycle.

-Has social media exacerbated my generation’s status anxiety? Sometimes I wonder what it’s like for the generations who don’t document their personal biographies online. When you used to hear news face-to-face or in a phone call. When people posting ‘candid’ photos of their milestones for public consumption would have been quite frankly, bizarre.

-The following statements are not helpful and both have been said to me: “Sophie, there are people that are dying.” And “Sophie, don’t overdramatise.” The following statements are helpful. “Is there anything I can do for you?” and “you can get through this.” Even if the latter sometimes feels trite, I promise hearing it from someone else does help.

-Therapy is hideously expensive but if you can access it, please do. It has helped me see how the past impacts the present. It has taught me how to recognise my own toxic thought patterns and in turn how to reshape them in a more positive way. It’s also really amazing being able to talk through things with someone removed from your day-to-day life. If you're a uni student, utilise their counselling services. I know they're spread thinly but they do make a difference.

-I also rate diary writing, and it’s free. Yes it is hard. Yes it can be really revealing. Admittedly, lately I have become lazy with this but even if it’s just writing out a list of bullet points, it all helps.

-If people are making you feel like trash or exacerbating any mental health concerns, distance yourself. Life is too short to put up with people like that. Stephen Chbosky wrote “we accept the love we think we deserve” and quite frankly we all deserve an abundance of love and respect. Always.

-Finally, be kind to yourself . Easier said than done sometimes, let’s be honest. It makes such a difference though. Be kind to those around you as well. We edit and curate our self-projection. You never really know someone’s history unless they share it or you ask. Listen. You learn so much more about the people in your life and you may be surprised to find stories similar to your own.

No one is alone.


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