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Recently, I posted a video on my Facebook and Instagram looking for peoples' descriptions of mental health. Not just illness, but mental health as a whole. I'm very lucky to have received feedback from mental health nurses, fitness professionals, people who have experienced mental health problems, along with friends and family. Some are things people have heard in podcasts or from talks, and others their own personal feelings. If you have anything you feel you would like to add to this, please email me. I hope that some of these statements can help others understand what mental health is allowing them to talk more openly about it. Feel free to leave any comments below.
Mental health, to me, is feeling content; mind, body, and spirit. To be comfortable in the skin you’re in and appreciate your body and mind for all it is and all it does for you. To me, mental health is what it is to be unique, to be yourself, to be human.
To me, mental health is a set of scales. For every single individual, different actions and events have different weights. On one side it's the good things that happen to you, and on the other it's the negative things. So for example: for me, missing a bus is a negative thing and can be quite nerve-racking. For me, this might weigh more than it would for other people. On the other side, petting a dog would weigh a lot more on the happy scale for me than other people. These are quite simple, and for most people, small things. One thing is getting out of bed in the morning. For some people it's hard. It's hard for everyone, but for someone with depression that is really hitting them hard, getting out of bed in the morning can be as hard as doing a marathon. It's realising that not every task is not as difficult or easy for each individual. The scales can always lean to one side or the other, but for someone struggling, negativity can be a greater constant.
- Amelia Gourlay
I would say mental health is what makes up you. Your psychological aspects of your wellbeing. It's the good, the bad, and the ugly. Everyone has mental health. When people say mental health, it tends to be automatically paired with a negative thing or people being ill. But really, some have more positive mental health, while others have more negative. In these cases, it can sometimes lead to mental distress or mental illness/disorders. I think your mental health comprises of your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, as well as perceptions of yourself, others, and the world. It's a really important thing, and many things can tip it from being good to bad. For me, having BPD, it can switch really quickly and intensely. I can literally go from being on top of the world and ecstatic one minute to suicidal the next from seeing something that triggers a traumatic memory or emotionally intense episode. So I think finding ways to manage your mental health is also really important.
Mental Health is so hard to distinguish and label. What is deemed okay/normal/healthy for one person may not necessarily meet another’s view point. Many have tried to define what mental health and mental illness is. It has been suggested that mental health is the absence of depression, anxiety, and an ability to cope constructively and positively with daily challenges. However, who do you know that can go through life shielded from stress, low mood, and so forth? Nowadays, they say 1 in 6 individuals have a mental health illness, so does that mean that a ratio of 5:1 are perfectly okay? I don’t think so. Mental health is organic in nature; a continuum based on internal and external situations. It’s one of the hardest things to define.
To me, mental illness is like the thing that creeps up on me when I least expect it. Like an unwanted guest at a party that you’re too afraid to tell “go away.” It’s a frightening and worrying thing because no matter how hard I try at times to get on with things and function, I've always got it nagging at the back of my brain. Telling me I can’t do certain things, or nobody would want me to go out that night and so on. Mental illness is like a carousel that you can’t get off of. It can be draining and exhausting trying to do such simple everyday things that most people wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at. It can be crying because you didn’t make a cup of tea for someone the way they like it and feeling so angry at yourself for getting such a simple thing wrong. It’s a learning experience. Different things cause different emotions, and finding the balance can be so difficult.
Mental health is present in everyone. Some people have fantastic mental health, others have mediocre mental health, and other have bad mental health. Your level of mental health can change depending on how you feel and cope with circumstances going on in your life.
Picture anxiety as holes in the floor boards. However, these holes only effect the people with anxiety. Every day the holes move around and as hard as it can be to avoid them, you just have to look down and be careful. Then one day, they put carpet down over the floor boards. Everyone is just telling you it will be fine as they walked over no problem. However, the holes don't effect them. How scared would you feel knowing that one wrong step and you could fall into a hole, no idea where it leads or what could happen to you. This is what having anxiety can feel like.
I am in the process of writing up a list of questions for people currently working in various mental illness support services. These questions are to gain a better understanding of what is out there in terms of support. Currently I am looking to talk to someone from Samaritans and someone from a listening service held in GP surgeries. If you have any questions you would like me to ask, please message me on Instagram or Facebook. If you don't have me on either of these, please email me and title it Interview Questions.