Nothing should be more important to you than your own health and wellbeing. Rest and recuperation should never feel like a guilty indulgence.
Gentle reader: When was the last time that you took a moment to close your eyes and feel the simple pleasure of the sun’s rays on your face? A moment just for yourself?
If you get the chance, please do this today. At times, nothing feels better or more necessary.
There is so much that crowds the path before you. So much that gets in the way of permitting you to prioritise yourself (or to “prioritise you”, as my friend Meg Peppin expressed it to me a few months back).
Nothing in your world should be more important to you than your own health and wellbeing. Physical and mental. It is both natural and laudable to want to put the health, wellbeing and welfare of loved ones and of other others first. But if you do this at the expense of your own health and wellbeing, there is no question that you will hit a hard stop, sooner or later.
Something will have to give. Your ability to stretch yourself beyond all limits and to laugh at those limits in the rearview mirror will come to an abrupt halt. At that point, your ability to put the health, wellbeing and welfare of others ahead of your own will fail, as a direct result of failing to prioritise your own self-care.*
Sick and tired
This year, I have had to focus on my mental health and wellbeing in a way that I have never had to before, and that I would never have expected to be necessary.* I have had no choice in the matter.
This year has felt like a trial to me. This year has often felt as if it is out to get me. I suppose that one positive thing I can say about my personal experience of 2022 is that it has at least had the common courtesy not to be boring. Another – and significantly more – positive thing is that I have been stunned and overwhelmed by the love, support, sympathy and understanding that I have received from so many beautiful souls these past few months.
I have resolved to be as open as I can about this journey in the words that I write and share here. In this spirit, and in all honesty, I feel sick and tired of this journey right now. Tired, especially. One by-product of this year’s events for me is exhaustion. Even this feeling of profound weariness offers lessons that can be learnt. As I wrote a few weeks back:
“When things have fallen apart, when you are at the point of exhaustion, you get to see what is at the heart of things.”
Death only gets to laugh once
Again in the spirit of my commitment to openness and honesty in the words I share here, when I am at my lowest, my most exhausted, I feel guilt at burdening other souls with my problems. I feel sick and tired of being what I perceive to be a burden to my wife, my family and my friends. I feel guilt at burdening anyone who chooses to read this blog with what I am going through. I really should not feel this way. It is an illusion, another aspect of this mental health journey that I need to confront, to learn from, and to move through and past.
I had a lovely little Twitter catch-up with my friend Russ Jones the other day. When he asked how I was doing, I didn’t want to give an honest answer. But in the spirit of being open and honest about what I am going through, I told him how testing this year has been for me. In reply, Russ tweeted some wonderful words to me:
“I think we all go through periods where the fates conspire. I certainly have, and yet … still here. I laugh in the face of death every day. Death only gets to laugh once, so that makes me the winner on aggregate. Ker-ching!”
Thank you, Russ. You could not possibly know just how much those were the precise words I needed to hear in that precise moment.
Recovery will not be rushed
I wish that circumstances had not conspired to put me on this path. I can wish all I want. It will not change the reality I have to deal with.
I am determined to find my way along and through this unexpected and unwanted path – I hope back towards a better and more stable place. I am determined that this year will not win.
I am determined also to overcome the guilt that I feel about all this, the voice inside my head telling me that I really should have been able to recover and move on from all this by now.
Recovery will not be rushed. My mental health journey – anybody’s mental health journey – is exactly that: a journey.
Self-care or prioritising your own health, wellbeing and welfare is not an indulgence. At times, it is the most important thing that you can do. It is OK to let another soul know if you are having a bad day or a tough time. Indeed, it is usually advisable. It is also OK to allow yourself a moment to close your eyes and feel the simple pleasure of the sun’s rays on your face. A moment just for yourself. A moment to rest and recuperate.
I would like to close with some wonderful words of advice that my friend Heather Bussing tweeted to me a little while back. Two simple words that are easy to read, but surprisingly hard to put into action (or inaction):
May you be nothing but kind today, to others and to yourself.
May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.
- Mental health (NHS) Information and support for your mental health from the NHS.
- Information and support (Mind) Resources from Mind, the UK mental health charity.
- NAMI Homefront (NAMI) Online resources from US charity NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
- SANE Australia Visit the site of this “national mental health charity making a real difference in the lives of people affected by complex mental health issues”.
* As some oft-memed words have it: “If you do not make time for your wellbeing, you will have to make time for your ill health.”
** I have written about my ongoing mental health journey (begat my spiking stress and anxiety levels) in the following posts: Into the infinity of thoughts; Renewal; and No words?; Mental health first response; Glorify; In our darkest hours; and At the heart of things; No feeling is final; and Relax harder.