This World Mental Health Day I’m reflecting back on where I was 20 months ago, and where I am now. With some blunt lessons I hope can help others.
I told people that I was not ok.
I told people I had been suffering with mental health issues for over a decade.
I told people that I was no longer going to put myself in situations that didn’t make me happy.
It was hands down one of the most terrifying moments when I clicked post.
But it was one of the best things I have ever done.
Fast forward 20 months, and from the outside it looks like my life did a 180.
6 months after I pressed post I fell in love.
9 months after I pressed post I started my own company and quit my job.
15 months after I pressed post I moved into a flat I longed for.
20 months after I pressed post I’ve doubled my team, am hiring again, and will be speaking at an event for World Mental Health Day.
20 months later…and from the outside looking in, everything looks ok.
The truth, is that I still battle a negative voice on a daily basis.
The voice that says you’re an imposter.
The voice that says you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re stupid.
The voice that wants me to sit on a sofa. Do nothing. Cry.
It’s the voice no one else hears.
It’s the voice that my partner cannot understand because he doesn’t see how I can see myself that way.
It’s the voice my family can’t comprehend.
The voice friends will provide sympathy for, while reminding you you’re amazing.
So why can’t I silence THAT voice?
While I can’t yet silence those thoughts completely, the one thing I will accept and say today, is that I am strong.
Anyone who knows me well enough, will accept that statement as a big deal for Cathy.
It takes a strong person to get up in the morning when they don’t want to.
It takes a strong person to ignore the voice and get on with their day.
It takes a strong person to accomplish the things that matter to them. Whether that is getting out of bed and moving your body, or going into work and doing amazing things for your business. Or just getting up and showering. (At one point that was a HUGE accomplishment for me.)
It takes a strong person to say no.
It takes a stronger person to say “I’m not ok” and to talk.
While what works for me to get me out of a depression or anxious mood may not work for you, I at least hope some of the following lessons from the past 20 months can help.
In the world I work in, and the world I represent clients in, we all put our best foot forward.
Social media shows “the tip of the iceberg” it doesn’t show the work, sweat, tears, late nights, stress, anxiety, depression, crazy, sacrifices, that get you there. It doesn’t show insecurities. It doesn’t show weaknesses.
Social media is bullshit.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned and can pass along, is to take all social media with a pinch of salt. Do not get jealous of someone through social media.
Learn to measure yourself on where you were a week a go, a month a go, a year a go. Just focus on being you.
Another lesson, is to stop saying busy.
In the past 20 months, I’ve noticed more and more that there is a growing number of people who are using ‘busy’ as a way of being competitive. The number of conversations I have had with friends where you reach out for help because you’re overloaded and are only met with “oh I’m so busy to, I’m doing X, X and X” is sad. You being busy, does not and should never, justify someone else being busy.
Busy is also bullshit.
A win for me now, is being able to chill on a sofa at home and let my mind and body unwind.
Busy burns you out.
Busy causes stress.
Stress can lead to mental health and health issues.
Busy is bullshit.
Talk about priorities instead, and work towards manageable goals, that are your goals. Not the suggestion of another piece from an entrepreneur managing on 4 hours sleep a night, lots of coffee, the use of a PT and burning through millions in funding to compete with the other “busy” guy…
Listen to your body.
The way our body functions is directly linked to stress.
I am still training myself to listen to my body more and therefore help my mind. It takes time, but it’s helping.
Without your body, you cannot do you. You can’t live or work.
So take care of your body because it takes care of your mind.
The final lesson I wanted to share goes back to priorities.
While we live in a “hell yes” society, being able to say no is critical to your well being.
Put yourself first.
Stop having a fear of missing out mentality.
Set small, achievable goals. If you’re being asked to do something that doesn’t fit with them. Say no.
I have said yes to a lot of stuff in the past 20 months, that I probably shouldn’t of. Causing additional stress, huge bouts of anxiety and ultimately leaving me in situations where I had to bail.
Treat yes as the gift that it is. Value your time.
Say no more often.
My final thought on World Mental Health Day is to you.
You are strong.
You are stronger than you think.
You can talk and you can help. So whether you have mental health issues or know someone who does, get involved.
It’s ok to not be ok, and it takes the strongest of people to know that.