Some days, like the weather, a dark cloud hangs over us. Others are full of vibrance and sunshine.
You never know what the day will be like until you get up and start living it.
For women, it’s like the unpredictability of our hair. One day it falls perfectly into place, while on others there’s nothing we can do to tame our locks from their hideous look except to restrict it back in a ponytail.
Unfortunately there is no elastic strong enough to hold back those bad days in life. But where there is a will, there is a way.
May is Mental Health month – something we could all learn a bit about to better inform ourselves about how to treat those struggling with issues as well as a time for us to examine our own mental health. There is also a campaign currently underway called Not Myself Today. Using buttons to reflect moods, it is building awareness around mental health.
Personally I think the buttons are a great idea. We should all have a collection of our most frequent mood buttons, which we can attach to our lapels when needed.
For example, maybe you’re moody and just want to be left alone, a button that reads “annoyed” might help steer people away.
Or maybe you’re depressed and need someone to talk to, but don’t know how to reach out. A “sad” button might prompt a friend or co-worker to lend an ear.
Just the same, a “happy” button would surely put a smile on the faces of others.
The goal with such buttons, and the overall campaign, is to raise awareness about mental health, specifically in the workplace.
It’s time to listen when our friends and colleagues say: “I’m not myself today.”
Mental health still carries a lot of stigma. People with mental illness are often afraid to share their feelings or reach out due to how others may judge them.
Just because someone has mental health issues does not mean they should be locked up in a padded room, bound by a restraint jacket. Unfortunately this type of stigma still exists.
While some forms of mental illness are much more serious, there are different types of mental health problems, some of which are common, such as depression and anxiety disorders, and some not so common, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Approximately one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime.
But I believe that on some level, we all suffer from some form of mental instability.
Maybe the stress at work or at home is getting to be too much. A traumatic experience has taken place. An unhealthy relationship is driving you over the edge.
Whatever the case, the important thing to remember is that there is help.
Before your problems escalate and drag you deeper into mental instability, talk to a friend or counsellor. Join a support group – which could be a specific group dedicated to helping with certain problems but could also be a cycling circle, fundraising team or whatever hobby interests you (do something that lifts your spirits and makes you feel good about yourself). Talk to your doctor, perhaps medication is needed – there’s nothing wrong with having to take a pill every day if that’s what helps you cope.
But also know that no matter what form of therapy, medication or self-soothing you do, there will still always be bad days. Days when you think: “I’m just not myself today.” It’s perfectly normal and healthy. You just have to do what works for you to break through those dark storm clouds and bring on the sunshine.
Develop strategies and coping skills to strengthen your mental health (one helpful new website to check out is: mynewhead.com).
Don’t hide from or be ashamed of your problems, face them with confidence, knowing that the sun will shine again.
—Jennifer Smith is a reporter for The Morning Star