When was the last time you had a really bad day? A day where you couldn’t make sense of your negative thoughts, you were tired, you couldn’t get motivated and you just wanted to make everything stop, if only for a few seconds?
And when someone asked you if you were okay, what did you say?
If you’re like most of us, you probably responded with some iteration of “I’m fine”.
Except that you weren’t.
Your mental health wasn’t in the best place. You needed to be given the time and the resources to improve your mental and emotional state, rather than just hoping that it would sort itself out.
* * * * *
So many of us make excuses for our mental struggles and invalidate our own emotions; we power through and pretend everything is fine. We assume that if we just “suck it up and deal with it” that whatever negative emotions or emotional distress we’re experiencing will go away with time.
Sometimes, they don’t.
Every year: One in five people will experience a mental illness. 14% of people will be affected by an anxiety disorder. And only 35% of people will use a health service for their mental health troubles.
– Statistics via Mindframe. Applied to the Australian population.
We talk ourselves out of speaking up and letting the boss know that we’ve got too much on our plate. We avoid cancelling plans with a friend because we don’t want to disappoint them. We refuse to admit to others that we need some time to ourselves because we fear that people won’t understand.
We keep going and going and going, all under the belief that “it doesn’t matter”.
It does matter.
Your mental health is more important than:Going to work; Going to school; Scheduled exams; Tidying up the house; Running errands; The phone calls you were meant to make and meetings that you were meant to attend; The 400 unread emails in your inbox; The party that you said you’d go to, and friends you said you’d go shopping with; Being 10 minutes early to impress the boss; Making sure you don’t miss a gym session; Entertaining family members that are only in town for one day; Anyone who tells you that your reason for being upset/in pain isn’t valid, or that you don’t deserve to take time out for yourself.
You do deserve to take time out for yourself, whenever you feel like you need it. You matter.
Mental health is important, and it’s time to start giving it the gravity that it deserves. An attitude of “You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé” is intended to be motivational, but it’s doing more harm than good.
If you’re feeling upset, burnt out, stressed out, anxious, depressed or like something’s just not right:
Never, ever, ever dismiss it.
Never say that “it doesn’t matter” or that you “should” be able to handle it.
It does matter.
If something is strong enough to make you feel upset, depressed, anxious or otherwise – then it matters. Your problems, however trivial you might think they are, are important.
And if you let your stressors build up over time, constantly dismissing them as unimportant, they’ll likely get worse.
And in those moments, you need to do whatever it takes to get your mental health back to a healthy place. That might mean anything from spending the day catching up on sleep to reading, drawing, exercising and pumping some endorphins, calling a support hotline or going to see your doctor.
The next time you’re in dire need of a mental health day, please don’t ignore the warning signs that your brain is giving you. Please don’t let yourself be part of a scarily growing statistic.
Please be one of the brave people who take a stand for their mental health needs.
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