We are approaching that time of year again when many people that experience mental health issues find themselves in somewhat of a quandary. I know I do. It is a time of celebration, a time to renew relationships with family and friends, and a time to over eat. Unfortunately we get caught up in the commercialization and busyness of the season. No sooner do we have Halloween off the books and we become bombarded with the material side of the season. It always seems a contradiction to hear carols such as Silent Night as you literally fight your way through the masses in various stores trying desperately to buy that perfect gift for someone who already has everything.
It is also the time of year when daylight hours are at a minimum. Normally it can be the beginning of the coldest time of year. Sure. We had the warmest November since 1899. Wonder what that does to the global warming argument. Perhaps I won’t go there. The price we paid for this unusually warm weather is a total lack of sunshine. Not helpful at all for improving mental health. Even the hand full of Vitamin D each morning could not get me to fight my way through the gloom of another cloudy day.
But enough of me. A few weeks ago I presented to the local CMHA chapter in Melville, Saskatchewan. Earlier this year when I first chatted with one of the board members she shared a concern with me. As we talked about various experiences she mentioned that awareness of mental health issues was a good thing. She mentioned a family member that had suffered the debilitating effects of depression. She expressed gratitude about the way that resources had been available to help this particular person. But she also expressed concern that there seemed to be little mention of the people that were trying to be helpful to those that live with mental health challenges. She felt that these care givers were largely ignored in the big picture.
She makes a valid point. Far too often we forget about those that provide support and care, a support without any clear direction. There are no instructions written that cover the various challenges they face. Never knowing what the day may bring. Mental health issues are so unpredictable. It becomes an exhausting effort. It can have the potential to create another whole set of issues with far reaching implications.
That maybe why the following resonated with me. Sometimes you can get so busy trying to be everyone else’s anchor that you don’t even realize you are drowning. Isn’t that the truth. Whether through work, with family, friends, or community, we become so involved in wanting to be there, show leadership, make sure things happen, never miss a moment, that we lose sight of ourselves and the effect all of this can have on our own mental health. And then we wake up one morning and come face to face with the reality that our lives have changed. That we are now experiencing everything we were helping the other to overcome. Make sure you take the time to look after yourself. After all, without relationships, without community, without a healthy mental state, this time of year can be lonely and sad. We don’t want that and don’t need that. Make it a good one.
“Some people and events are difficult to deal with, but they can only stress us if we let them. Breathe in calm, breathe out chaos, and anchor yourself in peace.” Lori Deschene