Talking about mental health

A sunset over the Thames

It’s not something I’ve really talked about but, in recent months, I have felt so overwhelmed that I started to feel physical effects from the stress. Work was hectic, I had lots of side-projects on the go and fitting general life-admin around a social life was proving to be more and more difficult. Making an appointment with my GP for something minor felt like a very low priority so I let health issues slide. I worried I’d taken on too much, but I really didn’t want to let anyone down. Things continued to build up until it got to a point where I realised that I had to make some changes.

So, what could I change? First of all, I looked at which things were stressing me out the most and whether or not I could do anything about it. This led to me (a) pretty much ignoring social media, (b) not updating this blog, and (c) pulling out of a couple of side projects that I no longer had time for. Removing the constant noise of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for a while definitely helped me to remain calm when I would otherwise have started to panic about unimportant things, and remembering that this blog is something I maintain because I want to (rather than because I have to) was also a major plus point.

A sunset over the ThamesStepping away from side projects was harder, due to the worry that I was letting other people down, but it was worth removing that terrifying pressure from my future when it wasn’t something essential. It might have been a nice thing to do, but it just didn’t come that high up the priority list when the added stress was already making my health suffer. This may sound like I was blowing things out of all proportion, but that’s because many people just don’t talk about mental health issues or take them as seriously as we do our physical health. It’s often only when we are suffering physically that we feel justified in doing something about it. As if our minds don’t need care and attention too.

Every year, one in four people will experience mental health problems, but many will not realise this or will be afraid to discuss it with others due to the social stigma. It’s worth popping over to the Mind website to have a look through their information on types of mental health problems, treatments, tips and guidance. They have some good information that will help you to get perspective on the problem and enable you to seek help, if needed. Maybe one day it’ll be as socially acceptable to take a day off work for the sake of your mental health as it is to take time to get over a cold.

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