I wrote a post a few years back, Maintaining my Mental Health, which was a post I wrote about my own warning signs and what I need to do when I recognise my mental health slipping.
It has stood me well over the years and I still read over it from time to time to remind myself of where I have been before and the steps I need to take to avoid going back there again.
Of course, you can’t always avoid going back and I have found myself back in the throes of depression this year, with an added pinch of stress and anxiety thrown in for good measure.
Obviously maintenance is the goal, but how do you overcome and recover your mental health in the first place?
It’s all about reclaiming yourself and therefore reclaiming your mental health by acknowledging you have an issue, accepting your limitations, asking for help, committing to change and recognising your self worth.
Sounds SO easy, doesn’t it…?
I’m currently attempting to reclaim my mental health by focusing on these areas but it is by no means easy. I’m still struggling – some days I feel almost normal again while others I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic over something small and trivial. That knot of stress and anxiety is still in my chest, despite my best efforts to shift it.
While progress is slow going, there has been some progress which gives me a glimmer of hope that I’m on the right track.
So here’s my plan for reclaiming my mental health.
Acknowledging I have an issue – this one is not easy and took me many months to accept. I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling again. I didn’t want to look too deeply and see the real cause for my declining mental state – me. But acknowledging that I do have issues to overcome and being honest with those around me is the first step to recovery and to take the action required to get help.
Accepting my limitations – this was a hard one for me. I hate accepting that I can’t do something. For me, it’s akin to quitting, even though in this case it is not good for me to go on with all my existing responsibilities. Accepting that I cannot not do it all and that I am not Superwoman and that I do have limitations has helped me move forward. I don’t like it, but it appears I am human after all…
Asking for help – again this is not natural for me. This time around I have been starkly reminded of my own stubborness and inability to delegate even the smallest of tasks which has caused me significant issues both at home and at work. I am a control freak and, according to my psychologist, a perfectionist too. I need to let go and one way I have done this is to delegate shopping and cooking to Nathan. I need to make more progress in this area but I finally truly understand that it is okay to ask for help and to share the load.
Committing to change – I’m still in the early days of this one but I do want to change myself and my life for the better. As stated above, we have made some changes at home and I am taking on a new position at work so I no longer have people reporting directly to me. It was a hard conversation to have at work, to admit that I couldn’t continue in my manager role but I am proud that I had the courage to tell them and so grateful that they responded in a positive way to my cry for help.
Recognising my self worth – I want to believe that I can be a competent mother, wife, friend and worker again. I have felt so low and so incompetent in all areas for so long now. I need to believe that I am a good person and that I am making valuable contributions across all facets of my life. I’m hoping by recognising my limitations, asking for help and committing to change that I will feel more in control and more competent in the coming months.
I’m being aided in these areas by regular visits to my GP who has prescribed an anti-depressent for me and referred me to a psychologist for more specialised help. The psychologist is concentrating on my stress and anxiety levels and is already honing in on my big issues – perfectionism, need for control, inability to relax and poor self esteem. None of these are new to me and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to completely change my stripes but I’m hoping to learn some techniques to help me manage these traits in the future.
What tips do you have for reclaiming and maintaining your mental health?