Reflection and Protection

I’ve just been reading a few of the harrowing and heart breaking real-life mental health crises the activist and advocate Mike King has been sharing on social and traditional media. It highlights that we are a nation faced with a genuine epidemic, and I have so much respect for all those who share their stories.

At the same time however, I know for myself, that I need to protect my own wellbeing, and that may mean I need to manage how many of these stories I engage with. Heaven knows I have been very open with my own mental health happenings, hoping it might help someone somewhere. But I’m still in recovery from a disastrously inaccurate diagnosis, the wrong medication, and a domino effect including a plethora of self-destructive behaviours.

I write this today happy, healthy, calm and unmedicated. My own recovery leaves me hopeful that we can get through the tough times and experience a brighter more hopeful present. I would love to see some earnest changes in our society and mental health system to support others to feel unashamed and have access to the help they richly deserve.

The best place for some of us to offer support, advice and advocacy is simply by taking our own mental health needs seriously so we are well enough to be a part of this conversation as it evolves in our homes, workplaces and wider society.

I am not saying you should ignore the weight of the accounts that are being published. If you are of sound, mind and body, and touched by these incredibly real and important conversations, I hope they will spur you into actions that could have wonderful knock-on effects for healing yourself or someone in your circle. I’m also not saying turn a blind eye. I’m suggesting it might be a good time to implore some of my more sensitive readers to consider putting your own mask on so you are in a better position to help those around you.

Channeling the sadness and anger you may justly feel when faced with the reality of the mental health crisis here in Aotearoa will be different for everyone. If you are hurting in any way and you stumble across this little blog, I want to remind you that YOU are a worthy, beautiful, miraculous being. And that whatever state you are in as you read this, you are incredibly important, and there is the possibility of comfort and joy on the other side of the types of pain that are being discussed online. But also, you are not responsible for every person, crisis, or event that makes you feel something. AND… You must take care of you before you can help anyone else.

That’s all I wanted to say. Reach out if you read this and need a virtual hug. As you know, I am really bad at getting back to people in a timely manner but it would be an honour to talk to you as I have the bandwidth to tell you honestly that you are wonderful.

The Week the World Did Not End.

There is a cycle that takes place in a brain like mine. In an upswing, things can be thrown at me from a variety of directions. During such an upswing, I’ll nonchalantly grab seemingly impossible things, in an impressive catch a la wayward cricket or baseball that lands in the terraces/bleachers. Downswing? I catch nothing. I catch sad that floats around malls and supermarkets. I catch hopeless. I catch tired. I catch self-doubt and loathing. I catch a lot of chocolate and cake in my mouth and then my butte catches some inches.

There are people who understand. There are people who do not. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

One thing I have gotten to be very good at lately, is asking for help.

So I’ve got a professional mentor who I find inspiring, interesting, feisty and fabulous. And I am working on arranging a life-coach and some counseling. I’ve also got an army of friends who know me well and Love me and are not afraid to give me a swift kick in the pants from time to time. I’ve also, it turns out, got an army of people who are fighting similar battles to mine. I have had a landslide of the same advice from people who know me well, and people who only know me online or of me through circles we share. The message is the same:

You’ll be okay.

And, I think, okay is on the way.

So one thing that happened last week is losing my phone.

Three days without it.

I wasn’t as put out by this as I thought I might be. I am terrible at returning calls and keeping in touch at the best of times, so this was more of a welcome break than a huge inconvenience. There are a few VERY important messages I have yet to return (Leigh, I will call you tonight!) but, all in all, nothing absolutely epic happened as a result of being difficult to contact for 72 hours.

The world did not end as some millenials would fear being without a smartphone would herald.

Several things fall through the cracks, every day, and in so many ways. Even the most meticulous list writers, calendar organisers, time managers and officious among the human race will forget things or neglect things from time to time.

We did spend Friday night off grid at the Treehouse near Matakana, where there is zero Internet and phone. There is a magic that comes over you at that house, after your brain has had a day or two to process the initial panic of being without social media or text capacity.

There is more and more research that touts the benefits of being offline from time to time. They call it a technology detox. Many of us take some time off of sugar, or gluten, or booze or caffeine. Why can’t time away from tech be a thing that we include in our overarching life strategy?

Anyway.

I know as some of you read this you are going through dark times. Hang in there and please do not be hard on yourself as a few things slide past you. Be kind to yourself. Go for more walks, turn off your phones and close your laptops a bit more. Look up at the clouds and the stars a bit more and down at your devices a bit less.

And yes.

I realize the extreme irony of this advice coming from a tech junkie like me.

Thank you for reading.