This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is possibly one of my favourites; Surviving or Thriving – ‘Rather than ask why so many people are living with mental health problems, we will seek to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health’.
Maya Angelou is well known for inspiring quotes and one of my favourites of hers is this:
When you struggle with your mental health, sometimes the idea of thriving can be somewhat alien, especially when it takes all you’ve got just to survive and this is okay. I have anxiety and depression are there are times when these take over. However I’ve also managed to turn my experiences on their head and thrive from them!
I am currently in a job that involves offering support to University students with personal problems, be they academic or general wellbeing. I fell into this job. I had decided where I wanted to live and needed a job to be able to stay there, saw an administration job advertised and applied for it. Unfortunately I didn’t get it but was asked if I’d like to apply for a similar position in a different department and I decided to go for it. I now look on this as one of the best things to happen to me.
Over the last year or so I have discovered a passion for mental health advocacy, both in campaigning and supporting others and guess what, my current role enables me to do both! I’ve run events and campaigns for students focussing on mental health and am currently working towards a qualification in giving advice that work have supported me to do. Through this I have been able to take my negative experiences and turn them into something positive.
Now it’s not all hunky dory, I do have my bad days where my depression and anxiety make it hard to get through the day. However my workplace are extremely supportive and they have helped me put a Wellbeing plan (also known as Wellness Action Plan) together, which I’ve also been able to use in my personal life. Here’s a brief snapshot of what it involves: (or to see more here on Mind website)
*what I notice when my wellbeing is good
*what changes do I notice when not good
*what do I need to do when not good
*what can colleagues do
*what can I do to prevent deterioration
* what can trigger
*what can I do do decrease susceptibility
I also thrive by doing the following:
- Spending time with friends
- Having alone time (I’m a bit of an introvert)
- Doing activities I enjoy like dancing, reading, listening to music, spending time outdoors, cooking or baking, being creative, visiting new places and discovering new things
- Focussing on the positives, I’ve recently started a GLAD (Grateful, Learned, Achieved, Delighted) diary which I write in ever day
- Accept situations I can’t change (not always easy)
- Practice mindfulness
- Look after myself – good diet, exercise etc
- And of course, writing this blog, through which I’ve met some amazing people and made new friends
Instead of letting my mental health be a negative thing, I’m doing everything I can to change my experiences into a positive thing, learn from them and hopefully in the process help and inspire others. Having said all this though, as a friend of mine recently said, sometimes when living with a mental illness surviving is thriving!
At the end of the day life’s for living and if we do only live once I’m going make the most of it. As I love my motivational messages here’s another to end on: