Is it weird to say Happy mental health awareness week? For me, you could say it is good timing.
Today I feel sad, depressed and unhappy and do you know what – That’s absolutely fine!
It is mental health awareness week and I personally hate the expression ‘mental health’.
The word ‘mental’ reminds me of asylums, negative stigma and it takes me back to school days where we would easily throw the word around the playground. “Hey did you see Mrs. Berry run out of class in tears today, she’s gone mental,” said horrid child whilst guffawing!
We have come such a long way with how we view mental health, but as recent as 50 years ago people were admitted to asylums. No matter your age or sex you would be locked away from friends and family, force fed medication and even put through electric shock treatment.
Asylums conjure up images of patients sat in white robes, rocking backward and forward, they were places to be avoided at all costs. If you showed any mental instability, you did your best to hide it!
Can you believe the last ‘mental institutions’ in the UK closed in the 1980’s, so you can see how current the stigma around the word ‘mental’ is?
Story of Stigma from a friend;
He went through a breakdown last year. How did it happen to him?
He is successful, runs his own business and is in a very happy relationship.
The depression came from nowhere, grabbing hold of his hand it led him down a dark path for a few months. Thankfully he is now receiving therapy and on the road to feeling better.
Inspired by yours truly (own trumpet blown) and the need to raise awareness amongst his peer group he bravely wants to share his experience.
Unfortunately, through fear of being judged by his business suppliers and customers when they find out he has a ‘mental health’ issue, he will not launch THE blog that could potentially be awesome and helpful to many.
I do not blame him for this decision, I just think it is sad. He may not be judged, but the fear behind using the word ‘mental’ has ultimately made him feel this way.
Would he tell people he had another serious illness other than a ‘mental illness’ through the worry of being judged?!
Is feeling Sad bad?
Sadness is a feeling as real as happiness and as potent to our brain health as excitement, anticipation, and even exercise.
In our busy, stressful lives we have been led to believe sadness is a bad thing. Look at all the books teaching us ‘How to be happy’ or ‘How to be your happy self’.
We all love to watch doom and gloom, we are ‘entertained’ by TV programmes where unhappiness and misery are the normality. We are all addicted to other people’s misery and misfortune, so why as a society do we strive so hard not to be or feel sad?
Feeling sadness and accepting everything that comes along for the ride CAN BE really beneficial and therapeutic.
There is nothing like a good cry, the kind of cry where your shoulders shake, your nose runs and your face looks like you have just held your breath under water for at least an hour.
How often have you noticed or read a book on ‘How to be sad’? or ‘How to be your sad self’?
When did sadness become such a negative word?
I have always felt guilty for feeling sad and actually until recently I had no idea how to be sad. As I sit here crying uncontrollably whilst writing this blog, I now accept this as sadness and nothing to feel guilty or sorry for!
Sadness can be anger, depression, crying or numbness. There are over 25 synonyms in the English dictionary for sadness, so take your pick.
Next time someone asks how you are and you feel sad, respond truthfully ‘Actually, I feel downhearted, gloomy and sad’
Sadness looks and feels different for everyone and acknowledging sadness can be hard enough, let alone if we feel we cannot share it or even understand how to be sad.
(Note to self; write book on ‘How to be sad’)
Confessions of a happiness quote addict!
One saying I do love is from the film ‘Elf’ and one I say often internally to myself just to simply make myself laugh, it is simple but highly effective!
It has to be said with a crazy SMILE smacked across your lovely face.
“I just like smiling, smiling is my favourite”
I am a self-confessed happiness quote addict!
I am happy (ironically) to report I am in recovery from my addiction to quotes, sayings, analogies and books about happiness and how I should be happy.
At the time I believed if I read them enough surely I would trick my simple but cruel mind into being happy. (Said with evil laugh Mwah, mwah, mwah)
I think in one day alone I counted over 50 different messages from social media, TV, papers and magazines about how we should all be so bloody happy – all of the time!
I am not a party pooper! For some people, happy quotes can genuinely make them feel better. If you can identify and feel empowered by the many and often amusing quotes on how to be happy then great!
We just need to realise sadness is not a bad feeling.
Brain, Mind or Mental Health?!
Would you know the difference between the words Brain, mental or mind?
Well, lovely readers, there isn’t any difference! Our minds and brains are one in the same and if you are being mindful of something, you can guarantee your brain is responsible for it.
Your brain and mind are like the close family friends you for some reason call Auntie and Uncle! You are not sure why you call them Auntie and Uncle, but you just do and it works.
Our minds and brains slowly integrate through perfect harmony. Scientists have identified that due to neural connections we develop whilst in the comfort of our mother’s womb, our brain, mind, and mental well-being is one in the same.
Although ‘brainfulness’ does not quite have the same ring to it as ‘mindfulness’
Did you know your deep and magical neurons connect and renew daily, striving to grow and repair whatever necessary?
A proposal (No, not of that kind)
I, dear readers propose we rename mental health awareness to brain health awareness.
Sure, we can raise awareness and educate people about using the word ‘mental’ but why not use a word we are all familiar with. We can all identify with the word brain, we all have one (well most of us most the time) and the stigma surrounding it is far less judgemental.
Let’s break free from mental illness and embrace brain health.
I am aware at this point in time I sound like one of the politicians vying for your vote; I am not! I am simply a girl on a mission to recover, educate and ultimately share my experiences in living with a brain that needs a little work!
I just made myself laugh, I usually identify myself as having a ‘mental illness’, as I still find anorexia a hard word to explain to people. If I am to practice what I preach – what do I say now?
“Hello, my name is Katie and I have an unhealthy brain” or simply I get sad”?
In the words of Winston Churchill
‘never, never, never give up’