World Mental Health Day (October 10, 2017) / Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 1 – 7, 2017)

This will be far shorter than I’d prefer, but I’d rather say something short now than nothing at all. I’ll also be working on something more significant later in the week.

Today is Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), just after Mental Awareness Week (Oct. 1-7)!

If you are struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone. Whether you are beginning or continuing your journey, please know that help is out there in many forms.

If you know someone struggling with mental health issues, please do your best to be patient, understanding and helpful in gentle ways.

Resources are available for both sides. Education is a must, and discussion is the best first step!

The first step of my own mental health journey began with seeking resources at my university. This was fortunately a free services for students, and I was also able to receive also-free extended sessions for a short while after graduation.

More fortunate than that was the therapy itself. Being able to open myself up to someone – therapist or otherwise – was immensely vital and necessary. I specifically sought a therapist for professional help, but this is not the only avenue for a person to start their mental health exploration. Even just friends and family can be the initial key towards progress.

If you feel hesitant to share your issues with others, even loved ones, please know that you do not have to crack open your book all at once. It can be a simple as stating that you suspect you are having troubles, and baby-stepping it from there.

Above all else, do not be afraid to try. Consider any friends or family who could be most understanding, and look into any professional services available to you. It’s not all high-price “shrinks” – my current behavioural therapist was made available at no charge by referral from my family doctor.

Consider your options, and map out your mental health journey today. And remember: you are not alone!

Government of Canada website for information on Mental Health Awareness and Illness resources

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No Desert, No Storm

The bad feeling is back today. The sadness, the anxiety. But I’m not worried about it.

Things have been good lately. Or at the very least, I’ve felt consistently good for many weeks now. I try not to qualify my feeling “good” as simply not feeling “bad”. But if anything it’s a relief.

As usual I wonder where this feeling comes from. This creeping dread, this pessimism and uncertainty. I can physically feel the dour look on my face.

It really hasn’t even been a bad day. In fact it’s been very productive, proactive, actively dealing with things. I even tackled a couple items that had been long neglected. But throughout – even first thing when I woke up – I felt that buzz in my heart. The mysterious anxiety over who knows what.

Lately it’s not been a question of worrying over the anxiety’s what’s and why’s. Just today I was thinking of balance. I recently heard a very connective quote: “All sunshine makes a desert.” It’s a perfect partner to the phrase, “It can’t rain all the time.” Everything is balance, even good and bad. You can’t have one without the other, even emotionally. Or especially so.

And so this afternoon, despite the sadness, I accepted it as I’ve tried in the past. “This is just a sad day,” I told myself, “and not in a bad way.” After so many days of feeling pretty good, why wouldn’t the pendulum swing towards feeling a bit low?

That anxiety, though… I still wonder where it comes from. Or at least I’m reflexively certain that it has to come from somewhere. The notion of it just arbitrarily existing in my heart just doesn’t make sense. A doctor once told me, “Injuries don’t just happen. Even if we don’t remember what, something caused the pain.” So why wouldn’t it be true of emotions?

But I’d like to think that this is far, far less of a problem anymore. Earlier this year I would feel this anxiety near endlessly, for days on end. It’s not like that anymore. The opposite, in fact: many bad days teased with glimmers of hope are now flipped, and the consecutive good days now much eventually give way to patches of gloom. Like rain after a week of sun.

And who wants to live in a desert?

© 2017 Day By Day Mental

The Push-Pull of Growth and Fixed Mindsets

“Do or do not – there is no try.” – Yoda

Not long ago Josiah Henry over at Skylarity shared an interesting video on the topic of Growth versus Fixed Mindsets…

The video provides a simple, Goofus-and-Gallant style explanation of the differences between Fixed and Growth mindsets. In short, a person is either of the Fixed Mindset – believing that one either does or does not have a singular ability to do something – or of the Growth Mindset, wherein a person is open-minded towards learning and self-improvement in the face of adversity. Continue reading “The Push-Pull of Growth and Fixed Mindsets”

Rest for the Weary

“I am weary, let me rest” – Pete Roberts (song)

That’s the title lyric to a song from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. It’s a very beautiful track, as performed by the Cox Family, if not very remarkable. You hear it only briefly in the film, and it stands as a pleasant, low-key interlude amidst the soundtrack album.

That title line has also been the anthem of my past year. Not even the song – I have not felt close to death altogether, per se. But I have felt tired; very, very tired.

“Weary” in particular has felt like the best word for it. Tired was long ago; simple exhaustion has come and gone. If this last year’s journey has taken any sort of toll, it has left me weary of the travel.

To be clear, I’m in a far better space now. After many months of insecurity and uncertainty, my path is now well lit and smooth. There are still many miles to go, but that’s neither here nor there. Things are simply better.

That said, I still feel tired. My body and my spirit still call for rest, for reprieve. That is to say, I haven’t had a real break in a long time. At best almost a year ago I spent a few days visiting friends in Kentucky. But even fun trips can be filled with so much activity so as to warrant the old saying, “I need a vacation after my vacation.”

A self-destructive pattern emerges, wherein I guilt-trip myself for imaginary slights. Within my desperate search for steady work since Fall of last year, there have been many gaps without income. And during those gaps I would do nothing but fret over the hours wasted not making money. The result was time spent not having to work, but not being able to enjoy it.

Stability was the goal. Even as I mulled over and reconsidered and reimagined what it could mean for me to make even a basic living, all I ever longed for was a certainty that my monthly expenses would be met. With that in place I could let go of that anxiety, my vision clear to pursue other goals more confidently.

That time has come. My current work situation allows me my minimum monthly income, and mostly does not wear on me physically and mentally to the point that my outside hours are wasted in exhaustion. The day-job is also just shy of full-time, so as to allow time for pursuing my writing career which also brings in a bit of extra money.

In short I am in a position to both work and live comfortably, even if I’m not yet becoming wealthy.

But financial wealth is not yet the goal. I’ve been aware and honest about the current job market and financial times. Again, mere stability is what I’ve been looking for. But that’s not all. I need the rest. Lord knows I need a break.

But I’ve also needed permission for a break. I don’t mean asking for time off work; I don’t mean running away from responsibility and toil. I simply mean – I desperately need – permission from myself to not worry and fret over these problems, if only for a short while.

This is where self-forgiveness comes in; this is where simple self-kindness and love enters the play. I have worked hard for a long while now, and deserve a break. It’s not fair to myself to disavow this.

One of my biggest faults is self-imposed pressure to always be working, to always be productive. Even my off-time is filled with productive leisure, making music or reading books or watching films. There’s always something to do, and it always needs doing, even at the expense of relaxation.

It’s time to put those pressures away. To re-prioritize. This calls to mind cultural staples of “getting away from it all,” in order to “recharge”. They say, “Life is too short.” And I think I’m finally starting to get that, both consciously and unconsciously.

I’m not one for three-week vacations. Fun in the sun on sandy beaches, pampered pleasures, I’ve never really known that or longed for it. And to be honest I’m not in a position to take that much time off. Not without perpetually worrying about wasted time and money, anyway.

But therein lies part of the problem – the sheer worry over everything. I don’t know what it is to properly let those concerns go, in a healthy manner. But I can learn, and will.

I may not be able to take whole weeks off. But I can at least not fill my days with self-imposed pressures of productivity.

I am weary, and deserve rest. I owe myself that much.

© 2017 Day By Day Mental

Morning Coffee: Pressure and Progress

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This is my morning coffee.

To clarify: I’m not actually a coffee drinker (blech). Which is not to say I don’t have difficulty starting my days. But my difficulties are more in terms of motivated productivity rather than brain functionality, even if the two are somewhat connected.

No, I don’t need to be juiced up first thing in the morning, so much as motivated to get up and about. Historically speaking my mornings have long involved  being off to either school or work within 30-60 minutes of waking up. As such my inner drive is conditioned to expect productivity within the first couple hours of the day. Contrast this with weekends: Sleeping in means not having to do anything first thing in the morning. Those first few hours are inherently about relaxation. Continue reading “Morning Coffee: Pressure and Progress”