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What is Mental Health Awareness Week all about, anyway?

1
What is Mental Health Awareness Week all about, anyway?

Is it about increasing knowledge of lesser known or extreme mental health illnesses and issues, like Complex PTSD, Postpartum psychosis or suicide? Is it about busting the (many) myths of more common mental health problems like anxiety, stress or PND? Is it about celebrities and other mere mortals sharing mental health experiences and normalising these? Or is it simply about forcing us to take a moment to become more aware: aware of our own (and others’) mental health and to use this awareness

SelfishMother.com
2
to keep ourselves on an even keel?

For me, its all of these but, most importantly, it’s the latter, something that is often missed.

Of course, it’s important, crucial even, that we educate society in the rarer or more extreme forms of mental illness so we can create a more alert, accepting and supportive society. It’s also important to normalise more “frequent” mental health issues as we will all be affected at some stage (either personally or through a loved ones experience) and it doesn’t make us a three eyed, seven bellied, alien to

SelfishMother.com
3
be so.

But we also need to create a culture where we are aware of our own fluctuating mental health (not ilnnesses-just health) all day, every day. We need to remember that it’s there, and give it some attention each day (a check in with ourselves, a moment of thought-not a full on candle lit meditation practice). And maybe even give it some support or “medicine” if we so desire (drugs-the prescribed kind, a glass of wine or bar of chocolate, reading a book, an early night or a night off the washing up). The same way that we are mindful of and

SelfishMother.com
4
attend to our physical health through diet, exercise and rest. And the same way that we feel a physical niggle and seek support to make it better.

Take yesterday: It was up and down and up and down. And down and up. All day.
I woke exhausted, with sore shoulders, having dreamt about our charity run (where I forgot everyone’s trainers and charity tops and where the race starts-anxious, much?). Usual morning chaos/chores ensued, a slightly longer than planned drop off (see previous posts), a accident with my girl and a heavy see saw at nursery and an

SelfishMother.com
5
afternoon seeking medical advice and attention.
There were some good bits too: 10 minute morning yoga, the sun was shining, some lovely words from nursery staff and a productive meeting at work. Post disaster, my brother and the medical folk we saw were AHHHHH-MAZING.

By mid afternoon, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the rest of the week may not go to plan (and all the worry that comes with that-no work means no money, no time to myself…) In the past, my go-to solution is to overplan to make up for lost time and to hit up some exercise

SelfishMother.com
6
the second I can. I push through crappy days, run or dance myself positive and then collapse into bed later than planned.

Yesterday, I took a different approach. I was #MentalHealthAware and checked in with myself throughout the day and dealt with each emotion as best I could, as it arose: I organised when I needed to, I enjoyed the sun and the warmth when I was outside, I relaxed when I could, I breathed deeply through hospital and dental appointments, I ate when I was hungry and drank when I was thirsty, I talked things through when others were

SelfishMother.com
7
available, I ate an ice cream when I was too hot and I asked for help when it was needed.

I did not push through. I didn’t shelf anything. I didn’t even exercise. I listened to my body and my emotions (not in a hippy way!) and I rested. I spent the night cuddling my babies and lying on the sofa watching Netflix. (I’m still there now!) And, I felt lucky at the end of it all. Not burnt out. Lucky. Lucky that my girl was ok, lucky we have such an amazing NHS, lucky I have great friends and supporters.

And for me, that’s what Mental Health

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8
Awareness Week is all about.
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Michelle Appleby

By

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- 17 May 19

What is Mental Health Awareness Week all about, anyway?

Is it about increasing knowledge of lesser known or extreme mental health illnesses and issues, like Complex PTSD, Postpartum psychosis or suicide? Is it about busting the (many) myths of more common mental health problems like anxiety, stress or PND? Is it about celebrities and other mere mortals sharing mental health experiences and normalising these? Or is it simply about forcing us to take a moment to become more aware: aware of our own (and others’) mental health and to use this awareness to keep ourselves on an even keel?

For me, its all of these but, most importantly, it’s the latter, something that is often missed.

Of course, it’s important, crucial even, that we educate society in the rarer or more extreme forms of mental illness so we can create a more alert, accepting and supportive society. It’s also important to normalise more “frequent” mental health issues as we will all be affected at some stage (either personally or through a loved ones experience) and it doesn’t make us a three eyed, seven bellied, alien to be so.

But we also need to create a culture where we are aware of our own fluctuating mental health (not ilnnesses-just health) all day, every day. We need to remember that it’s there, and give it some attention each day (a check in with ourselves, a moment of thought-not a full on candle lit meditation practice). And maybe even give it some support or “medicine” if we so desire (drugs-the prescribed kind, a glass of wine or bar of chocolate, reading a book, an early night or a night off the washing up). The same way that we are mindful of and attend to our physical health through diet, exercise and rest. And the same way that we feel a physical niggle and seek support to make it better.

Take yesterday: It was up and down and up and down. And down and up. All day.
I woke exhausted, with sore shoulders, having dreamt about our charity run (where I forgot everyone’s trainers and charity tops and where the race starts-anxious, much?). Usual morning chaos/chores ensued, a slightly longer than planned drop off (see previous posts), a accident with my girl and a heavy see saw at nursery and an afternoon seeking medical advice and attention.
There were some good bits too: 10 minute morning yoga, the sun was shining, some lovely words from nursery staff and a productive meeting at work. Post disaster, my brother and the medical folk we saw were AHHHHH-MAZING.

By mid afternoon, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the rest of the week may not go to plan (and all the worry that comes with that-no work means no money, no time to myself…) In the past, my go-to solution is to overplan to make up for lost time and to hit up some exercise the second I can. I push through crappy days, run or dance myself positive and then collapse into bed later than planned.

Yesterday, I took a different approach. I was #MentalHealthAware and checked in with myself throughout the day and dealt with each emotion as best I could, as it arose: I organised when I needed to, I enjoyed the sun and the warmth when I was outside, I relaxed when I could, I breathed deeply through hospital and dental appointments, I ate when I was hungry and drank when I was thirsty, I talked things through when others were available, I ate an ice cream when I was too hot and I asked for help when it was needed.

I did not push through. I didn’t shelf anything. I didn’t even exercise. I listened to my body and my emotions (not in a hippy way!) and I rested. I spent the night cuddling my babies and lying on the sofa watching Netflix. (I’m still there now!) And, I felt lucky at the end of it all. Not burnt out. Lucky. Lucky that my girl was ok, lucky we have such an amazing NHS, lucky I have great friends and supporters.

And for me, that’s what Mental Health Awareness Week is all about.

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Michelle Appleby

I’m a mum, a wife, a teacher and, above all else, a human. A human who has struggled to feel “good enough” most of her life but is slowly getting it right for herself, writing about life’s lessons along the way. (I’m defjnitely NOT a blogger type, whatever they are: I just like writing therapeutically.) **all views are MY OWN and not affiliated with any organisation or professional body**

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