Dear Future Self,
I am writing you this letter to share insights and strategies that have empowered me to persist in the face of my mental health and illness. I write with a caring heart that it reaches anyone struggling with their mental health, supporting a family, friend or colleague or those who just want to offer support to others. Collectively, we have the power to inspire more conversations on this topic and as well learn more about it so that you can adopt or share with the knowledge with others.
Firstly, understanding the difference between mental health and mental illness is helpful. Everyone has a mental health, and based on our words, actions and behaviours contributes to whether or not we have good or poor mental health. For example, to making the decision to exercise regularly and eating well everyday. The consequence of having poor mental health can lead to mental illness, such as depression and anxiety. I have both.
Similar to this unprecedented pandemic, mental illness does not discriminate on who it chooses and there is a no cure that can fix me overnight. It can happen to anyone at any time. Mental illness does not get cured through time, instead it requires the expertise of medical professionals. All personal and professional life events shape our mental health both consciously and subconsciously. The beast as I like to call it led me down a path from experiencing events that hurt me. From losing a dear friend in high school, becoming the ‘man’ of the house’ in my teenage years, and getting beat down on the tumultuous ride of Mum’s bowel cancer were only a sample of events that were building subconsciously until I couldn't cope with anything anymore. I lost my sense of identity, continually questioning my self-worth, purpose and will. It had crippled my passion for my work in the disability sector where I had to walk away from serving as a Board member for a non for profit organisation that was so dear to my heart.
So what does it really feel like?