Mental health has become a much- spoken about the topic over the last 2 years, mostly as a result of the circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, it took something of this magnitude to bring such a universal issue to the forefront, but at least mental wellbeing is a topic now being openly discussed and addressed. There are many facets to mental health, with depression and anxiety being two of the most common disorders that people are being treated for. Mental health is complex and requires professional diagnosis and support, so it is for this reason that many people are left untreated because they can’t or won’t seek help.
1 – Asking for Help
While many organisations have implemented employee wellbeing and support programmes, the issue is that there is still a massive stigma attached to acknowledging your own mental health requirements. In fact, many people are not even aware that they need help because they have lived with the issue for so long and have developed a complex set of coping mechanisms that mask the problem. I should know, as I recently sought help after living with mental health concerns and stress for many, many years.
2 – Understand Your Condition
Several incidents last year led me to seek out a psychiatrist and near the end of last year, I was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed the right medication. How do I know they were the right meds for me? Within four hours of taking them, my head was quiet (no more “monkey brain”), my thoughts were singular instead of scattered and random, I could focus on one thing at a time, and I could address a number of other associated behaviours because I became aware of them.
Most notably, for me, was that I have learned I can have a rational response instead of an impulsive reaction to things around me – who knew! I know a few adults who have ADHD, and most of them that I have spoken to have reinforced my belief that medication is necessary to treat this condition, along with engaging in other activities like exercise, sleep, and healthy eating.
3 – Share Your Story with Others
Addressing, discussing, researching, and understanding my ADHD was really an eye-opening journey that at times was quite painful and difficult. Especially reaching out to share my diagnosis with family members, friends, and colleagues. There is a small part of you that feels very vulnerable and worried that you’ll be judged, or worse, dismissed. However, for the people closest to me it was just as helpful in understanding how to get the best out of me, as it was for me to understand why certain parts of their behaviours or voice tones trigger me.
4 – Find Balance in Your Day-to-Day Life
Seven weeks after my diagnosis and being on the ADHD meds, it was apparent that I suffer from anxiety as well which is a common mental disorder “partnership”, so to speak. I recently began taking those meds as well, and again within a few days, I knew they were right for me. Living with mental health issues for so long means I was used to being in “flight or fight” mode all the time, and now I am learning how to live a more “neurotypical” life.
I have to unlearn a lot of coping mechanisms and masks that I had put in place, and for me, sharing my diagnoses and my stories have been a big part of addressing the issues and working with myself as opposed to against myself. Attending regular Pilates sessions and going for a 5k walk as often as I can have been instrumental in handling my ADHD and anxiety. Another way I have been healing and dealing, so to speak, is to talk about my mental health experience and journey. I am not alone, and neither are you!
Asking for help did not come naturally to me, and this has made me aware of how many people are suffering in silence. I believe sharing our stories and raising awareness around mental health is vital to changing the narrative around these disorders. It is not enough that celebrities and high-profile people do this, we need more people like you and me to share our stories. We are far more relatable than a famous person!
The more people who share that they are dealing with their mental health and how, the more we are inclined to share as well and provide better support. I encourage you this year to focus on your mental wellbeing and prioritise your own self-care in this regard. And if you feel comfortable, share your story with us all so we can learn and heal.
My story could be your story – let’s share