A month late I know, but World Mental Health Day was on October 10th this year. The reason for having such a day dedicated to certain issues is to raise awareness. And it is really good news that awareness around mental health is increasing and slowly the stigma is receding.
As a person who is prone to bouts of clinical depression, this is a relief. It is a relief when high profile personalities share their experiences of depression and other mental health issues. I’m thinking particularly of people like Prince William and Prince Harry (who clearly still needs our prayers at this time), Winston Churchill, Stephen Fry, J.K. Rowling, Adele and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Such a list shows us that good mental health is not guaranteed by fame, privilege, wealth, talent, winning a war or even having faith in God.
Websites, like Mind, have a wealth of really good information about the physical and emotional factors that affect our mental health. I do urge you to look at their website, for yourself or for someone you love, who may be struggling at the moment.
There is a physiological basis to mental health issues. There are chemical imbalances and possibly neurological issues as well. What brings about these changes is as varied as there are people in the world. Genetics, diet, trauma, stress, life circumstances, even the darker days of winter can have an effect.
Because mental health issues can have these physical causes (that can often be corrected by medication) then it seems to me that such an issue should be treated in the same way as when someone has any other medical issue. My hope and prayer is that when someone shares a mental health issue that they are treated with the same kindness as someone with flu or someone who has broken a limb.
My own mental health is something I’ve learnt to take great care over.
Here are two things, as well as medication, that have helped every time I have gone through a round of depression.
One is telling someone how I’m feeling. Depression is a bit sneaky, it creeps up and then you suddenly find yourself right in the middle of it. Telling someone helps open the space and lets in some light. There is often nothing to solve, its not a project to be managed, but knowing someone is alongside you is a huge comfort.
Secondly, my experience of depression is that, although everything feels very heavy and black, actually I’m very ungrounded and disconnected. So, the holy trinity of eating, sleeping and exercise needs to be given the highest priority in a day.
I’ll close this with a story from the Old Testament (1 Kings 19:1-8). The prophet Elijah was on the run from the Queen Jezabel who wanted to kill him. As he was running around the desert, Elijah got very distressed and asked God to just let him die. However, God provided a broom tree for Elijah to sleep under and food and water for him. Upon waking (after not one but two naps!) Elijah ate and drank and felt much better.
Such is the power of a nap and a snack!
With Love and Prayers
Wishing you all good mental health
P.S. Please don’t worry, I’m not currently suffering from a bout of depression! All is well. If you would like to speak to me about anything I’ve written here, don’t hesitate to call or email me.