Today I’m having a mental health day. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but in this society, it still is.
Alain de Botton has a short video out on How the modern world makes us mentally ill. He talks about six things that make us all feel crap in 2018 and I have to agree. They are, as he lists them: Meritocracy (everyone has an equal chance so if you’re on the bottom, you suck), Individualism (why can’t we all climb Mt Everest?), Romanticism (relationships should be 100% fantastic all the time), Secularism (nobody believes in things bigger than themselves anymore), the Media (full of utter crud and anxiety inducing bad news), and Perfectionism (striving to be perfect when we could just be perfectly average).
All of these things pull us away from our true self, our ability to be content with what we are and what we have and therefore, our happiness.
It’s hard to admit you’re sad when you seemingly don’t have any reason to be. Similarly, it’s often hard to have compassion for people who act sad when you can’t see why they might be.
With Alain’s description, we can see that everyone, everywhere, can be pulled down by the ideas of the modern world and it’s striving, judgement and self loathing inducing pretty pictures.
Combatting these forces is a little trickier as we go through life, however, as he says, each can be cured with particular activities and they don’t need to be difficult.
So today, I’m having a day off. I’m sitting in the sun eating chocolate and drinking tea. I’m playing on FaceBook. I’m petting my cats. The weather is mild. Our garden is still lush and green from the last rain. I’m taking my time. I’m doing things that I want, like changing the doona covers and getting some groceries. Writing to you. Playing Words with Friends. Eating leftover Chinese for lunch and watching the washing sway in the breeze and hopefully dry.
One of my big things is that I need some personal space, some time alone, to recoup from stress. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to get that space in the last few months. Work is very busy and home is very full. I’ve been recovering from my breast reduction surgery and that’s meant less exercise. My iron levels have tanked and that’s caused fatigue and other malaises that I’m trying to manage. The result is that I’ve not managed my stress or need to recoup very well over the last few weeks. I finally managed to get it out to the lovely last weekend which I’m not sure really went that well, as I hurt her. I’ve put on two kilos in three weeks.
But I did finally recognise it and today is doing something about it. Today is doing nothing in the space we call home all by myself. Today is just being and wandering. Today is taking care of myself, so that I can be there for the people that I love.
We often feel like it’s selfish to ask for the things we need to function. As a parent, as a partner, it’s hard to sacrifice time with others because you need time for yourself. Ultimately though, if you don’t, it takes it’s toll on everyone. Sometimes it’s hard to recognise this is happening though – even though your significant others can tell that something is wrong!
I guess I’ll just have to be average at being conscious, just like Alain says.
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring,