Where and how do I begin an article about mental health, during 2020, just coming out of full lockdown? Who would have foreseen any of this last year, or even six months ago? As I think of what to write (and who to), I wonder should I refer to ‘look-ups’ of what is mental health defined as? What are the statistics – before and since coronavirus started, male v female; young v old? Should I refer to other articles out there being written in certain industries, not that I have really seen any of them. Apart from one brave piece I read about someone admitting he was depressed, during a zoom call.
Writing from my heart and, of course, my own personal experience, the word that comes to mind is ‘lost’. I wonder if we are all a little lost, trying to find, and keep our balance. Trying to find our way through a maze of newness, the newness of our new world and life. Many of us speak as positively as we can of when things get better, when we travel again, when and if events come back (being from the events industry).
In reality, after an astounding six months, we start to realise that this isn’t just going away, and as I have heard many times now, this is the new normal. As if there can be a new normal – who knows what will change in the next days, weeks, or months.
One thing for sure is there is no assumption of stability anymore. As an avid planner and organiser in my everyday (and working life), I planned as far ahead as possible. My next flights, a next holiday, when we go out, where we can go. With a steadily growing realisation, so I shouldn’t be surprised, I can no longer book ahead. Flights, hotels, breaks away or seeing the family. That may be the hardest things for me to face, that I/we may never be able to book far ahead again unless, of course, you want to take the risk of cancellation and changes at the last minute.
So, things have changed. Doesn’t it stand to reason that we have all suffered a little from a knock on our mental health door, opening it slightly to see some demons walking in? Only the very tough have probably not felt their mental health suffering, or from a few bouts of depression, sadness at things gone and lost, and wondering what our future looks like. I think we are all adjusting to what has happened, and a slow acceptance of it, with a deep desire of hope to either wake up and it was all a dream, or that things will be back to our old normal again.
I certainly haven’t experienced anything like this before and have definitely needed to find an inner (and outer) strength to keep, and find, my balance. Waking up each day to realise a positive outlook, to keep going, and absorb the happiness of the present day. With some meditation, I started to find my inner balance, with some great friends I found my way through a path of job change and how I approach my daily life. Knowing my family love me, and are safe, even though I can’t see them, gives me the strength to carry on for when I can see them again.
What I know is that, we can’t all be super positive all the time. Some people just also need to accept they may be a little sad, or lost, on a certain day, or in a certain moment of time. It’s choosing to embrace this, accept it for what it is, and look after yourself through it. As my husband says about feeling ‘numb’, maybe we all have a bit of that too. After all, we woke up to find the world as we knew it had disappeared. Without warning. Affecting everyone. And more is to come, I am sure.
With job changes and losses, we can also feel a bit rejected. With no ease of travel, we can all feel a bit out of control of our future. An important discovery for me is to look after yourself, pamper yourself when you feel you should. Face up to if you are feeling a bit sad without barking “snap out of it” to yourself. We are in grief, massive changes as well as a daily feeling of Groundhog Day where nothing much is changing.
I don’t have the answers – does anyone? We are all dealing with it in different ways but dealing with it we are. I think we are all pretty upbeat, taking on new challenges and changes, adapting to new circumstances and finding positives about what we are in. More time to discover new hobbies and reacquaint with old ones. Time to reach out to friends, family and loved ones and make sure we are all ok, showing support and providing help and guidance.
Perhaps spending more time with our thoughts, we are finding more things to like and admire about ourselves. How we cope with these huge challenges has been one of them. And loving ourselves more, when we feel low, or a bit run down and ruined. We know in the next moment or next day, we will find our positive breath again, feeling the sunshine, trees, sky and sea on the inside.
Feeling life itself. Finding our balance and inner peace, contentment and happiness. That is the key.