Why don't we talk about mental health?

I'm not going to lie, the last month has been pretty insane in my head. I've spent a lot of time making plans that just never seem to come to fruition because what somebody else wants from me is always deemed more important and prioritised ahead of my own plans. I spend so much time in my own head, building up my frustrations around how much I'm not completing, or what opportunities I might be missing out on because I'm stuck doing something to alleviate someone else's stress levels. I literally do not say, “No, I can't do that,” to anyone, but am constantly hearing ‘no’ in return. My expectations of myself get me in a zone where I get so upset when I only complete nine of my 20 tasks in a day. And it's ridiculous. I know it is, but it doesn't mean I feel any better. 

I recently went to a Let's Talk session about depression and suicide — which had the main focus of opening up the channels of communication and breaking the stigma around mental health. I don't really know why there's such a reluctance to talk about mental health ... sure, you can't see it, but there's absolutely no way you can deny it exists. I'm tired of hearing the arguments of, “Just have a rest, you're obviously tired”, and, “She'll be right”. No, she most definitely will not be ‘right’ if we don't start acknowledging that mental health is hugely important to talk about. If we keep going the way we're going, we're going to keep hearing about the 500-plus people who die by suicide in New Zealand each year.

I've always been a highly anxious person, hence the bouts of psoriasis I deal with on what is now a daily basis rather than what used to be sporadic and far between. The talk I went to discussed the connection between our hectic schedules, the huge expectations on ourselves to achieve, the desire to chase objects rather than feelings and human relationships ... all of these things manifest and really mess with your head. And I 100% feel it — I know that feeling of getting to 5.30pm and instead of thinking about all the great things you achieved that day and being grateful for what you have, you sit in traffic incredibly disappointed in what you didn't complete, constantly feeling like you're getting nowhere, getting yourself in a funk that you just can't shake, and then getting really shitty at all the other drivers on the road who just won't let you get home.

One of the speakers at the event discussed how mental health is not a switch. You're not going to go from being in a really dark place one day to flicking a switch and being cured the next day. There are always going to be good and bad days — that's what being human is! But how you treat yourself plays a gigantic part in how you're feeling psychologically, and then that of course impacts your body and all the rest! 

If I could take one thing away from the talk, I would say that it's so important to love who you are and to be kind to yourself. Don't be so hard on yourself when you didn't get through all of those tasks on your to do list. You know what's more important than that? You. Don't start panicking about whether you can afford to buy a house in the Auckland market or not. Placing so much reliance on being happy through material items is so damaging. Be grateful for the here and now. Be grateful for the walks through the park at lunchtime, or the long baths on a Saturday morning, or the family dinners at your parents' place. Literally everything you think is important isn't. Only you are important. It starts with your happiness, and then you can help make the world a happier place from there.